Gardens in one of the UK’s largest cider areas of the face will be demolished, because the drinks giant Heineken is pulling the plug on Apple contracts.
The Dutch brewer, which is owned by Herefordshire-based cider with 2008 uses about a third of all cider apples grown in the UK. About 180 people of the garden, mainly based in Herefordshire, supply the fruit.
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Improved performance, the excess of UK grown apples and a shift among drinkers of sweet fruit ciders has led to a glut bitter-sweet Apple varieties, which form the basis for traditional mass-market fare, such as Strongbow Heineken.
Heineken, the largest manufacturer of cider in the world, negotiating compensation packages to by some growers of its long-term contracts, leaving a question mark hanging over the future of its trees.
Grove farm in Kimbolton, Herefordshire, has been supplying cider presses cider apples for almost 60 years, the last time troops annually 50 tons.
Tim Bunting, who managed the farm since 1983, said he was desperately looking for a buyer for the crop in the year after the Heineken canceled his contract in February. Oatmeal is afraid that he can bulldoze his 70-Year-old garden is home to seven traditional bitter-sweet varieties of apples, such as brown, Dabinett and Vilberie and turn it into arable land.
He said: “I’m happy with bulldozers, but it will be the easiest option. I have to be realistic”.
Bunting explained that his annually updated “supply contract” with the company Heineken, which does not guarantee the ransom payment.
A neighboring farmer, Colin Rogers, 71, is in the same position after Heineken refused to extend his contract. He said, “we need to find a home for this year’s harvest. A few small cider producers showed some interest but they only want a ton or time.
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“We might have to bulldoze the trees. Heineken have said, not so radical, but what do we do with fruit? You can’t leave as many apples on the ground, if you use it for grazing, they will kill sheep. I’ve seen drunk cows from eating too much.”
Heineken said that he talks to the producers on an individual basis, noting that some of the agreement expires naturally.
The representative of the company, which in the UK processes more than 100,000 tons of apples a year, said: “Heineken is committed to Herefordshire, investing £58m over the last few years to upgrade our operations. We have a positive long-term relationships with our producers, helping them to increase productivity and sustainability of their gardens.
“We work closely in cooperation with our manufacturers and strive to provide sustainable long-term supply of cider apples.”