From Michelle McGrath, Executive Director, US Association of Cider Makers…
The cider industry continues to grow. Obvious measures of growth are something I love to talk about, but what about the more subtle signs of a growing industry? How about “improved communication with consumers”? Sounds a bit more like personal growth than economic growth, but the two are tightly linked. A little under a year ago we released our first-ever Cider Style Guide as the first phase of our Cider Lexicon Project. It’s been inspiring to observe the language enter the marketplace. More and more, Heritage and Modern ciders are being distinguished and celebrated for their unique qualities.
The guide is open!
From the get-go, our style guide was designed to evolve with the industry. We shared that every year we would open the guide for submissions, and today we do that for the first time. We are asking you to share your suggestions for new styles or changes to existing ones. The submission form will be open until September 15, 2018.
More than styles
A shared Cider Lexicon is about much more than just style definitions. Consumer misconceptions about cider terminology undermine our potential for growth. Is the industry moving toward a unified definition of “DRY”? Are we developing a shared cider language to help our consumers more easily find a cider they like just by reading the description on the can or on the bottle? What is the best way to communicate dryness to the consumer? That last question is one we are asking ourselves a lot right now.
Please read our blog on dryness language and why we are endorsing the following specific terms: dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet. We hope you embrace these terms for your tasting room menus and your product descriptions. If we all use the same language, the consumer will start to gain a more solid understanding of cider.
Growth is good—and challenging
Choosing a common terminology is one task, but defining the terms is a bit harder. The industry is currently exploring how and why to measure dryness. Is an absolute measure the most helpful or should we be including perceived dryness? Both? That is still up for debate. How to measure perceived dryness is even up for scientific debate. We encourage this conversation to happen and believe the debate is healthy. We anticipate exploring these dryness concepts more at CiderCon 2019 in Chicago. In the meantime, please feel free to share your ideas on this issue.
This is an exciting time for our industry. The great thing about developing a shared cider lexicon is that we can better explain the beautiful nuances of our beverage to consumers. I love to celebrate cider’s diversity, and I want to help consumers do the same. As our Cider Lexicon project evolves, changes will be put into our Certified Cider Professional educational programming, helping the language reach consumers that much faster.
We look forward to talking about this more with you.
United States Association of Cider Makers