SEATTLE – Hard cider isn’t new; but as an industry, it is growing. Rapidly.
In 2011, 7.6 million gallons of hard cider was sold commercially in the United States. In 2014, that number was 53 million gallons.
“It’s still a small industry, just cracking 1 percent of beer industry sales for the first time this year, but it’s gaining momentum,” said Peter Tozer, a professor in Washington State University’s School of Economic Science. “And we want cider makers to learn how to keep the industry growing.”
He will head the Cider Symposium on Sept. 9, part of the larger Beeronomics Conference Sept. 8-9 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. He is hoping cider makers, brewery owners and others in the industry will attend to learn about advances in hard cider.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” said Tozer, who studies the cider industry as part of his research at WSU. “But hopefully, hearing from the people on the industry panel will be a big draw for cider makers.”
That panel will consist of representatives of large, medium-size and smaller cider makers, including: Robert Vail, brand manager for Angry Orchard Cider, the nation’s leading cider maker; James Kohn, owner of Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Oregon; and Eric Jorgensen, co-founder of Finnriver Cidery in Chimacum, Wash.
“There are over 400 registered cider makers in the U.S.,” Tozer said. “But 90 percent of sales come from the top 10 companies. It will be great to hear from representatives from major companies and from small farms that make their own cider.”
He said research on the cider industry, like the industry itself, is small but growing. He and his colleagues want to raise the profile of such research. The symposium will include research papers, but isn’t aimed at an academic audience.
“We want to provide a forum to exchange ideas and for people to learn more about cider, growing cider apples and how the economics of the industry works,” he said.