Cider maker Julian Temperley quits industry body in row over minimum pricing plans
A leading cider maker has quit the industry body after a row over how to fight Government plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.
Somerset brewer Julian Temperley resigned from the South West English Cider Makers Association (SWECA) after failing to broker an exemption from the proposed new law for small-scale producers.
Mr Temperley, a cider and apple brandy producer, orchardist and past chairman of the group, says he has been privately lobbying Defra ministers, including David Heath, to treat producers who sell at the farm gate differently.
He feels SWECA’s plans to enlist Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw in the fight has politicised the issue.
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This, he argues, will polarise the debate along party lines and force coalition MPs to back the plans just to oppose Labour, ultimately “destroying” many small cider makers who will be forced to hike prices.
Mr Temperley said: “I think many makers, smaller than those represented by SWECA would be destroyed and there would be a knock-on to orchards, landscape and tourism.
“A very large part of the West’s cider mystique and romance would be lost forever.
“I have singularly failed to persuade my colleagues to ask the Government for some sort of exemption – if an officer fails then the answer is to fall on his sword.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has personally backed the plan to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol – proposed at about 50p – in a bid to end binge drinking.
Many products exceed the price required under such a calculation.
However, small cider producers fear the move could hit them hard.
Mr Temperley has been arguing for an exemption for the first 12,000 gallons of cider sold direct from the barrel. Alex Hill, chairman of SWECA and chairman of Vigo Ltd, producing Bollhayes cider, said he planned to discuss the issue with Mr Bradshaw, who told him at a Parlimentary cider reception in September, he was leading the “resistance”.
“We are not trying to recruit his support but we are going to meet with him to find out the opposition to the plans, which seems sensible,” he added.
“Julian says he has been having these hush-hush meetings with MPs but it seems extraordinary that there would be an exemption.”
Mr Bradshaw added: “The Government hasn’t even published its consultation, yet David Heath appears to have given up and assumes minimum pricing is a foregone conclusion.
“It will be devastating for the cider industry.
“David Heath and DEFRA Ministers should be fighting this mad idea rather than trying to fob off cider makers and keep them quiet with some vague promises of “exemptions” which would be unlikely to stand up in court.”