The Identity Crisis of Hard Cider

  •  Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet    
  •  David Conner    


In the past 5 years, the hard cider industry in the U.S. has undergone a sudden and dramatic growth period. This boom initially revealed challenges on the cider-specific apple supply side, but issues on the hard cider demand side have also emerged. This mixed methods study conducted in Vermont, a crucial player of the U.S. hard cider industry, addresses the gaps in the literature both on the apple supply side, and on the hard cider demand side. On the apple supply side, fourteen semi-structured interviews demonstrated that neither a long-term formalized contract nor a cooperative model (the two strategic partnership mechanisms used by world’s leading industries to manage cider-specific apple production) are appropriate for the current Vermont industry context. On the hard cider demand side, cider makers expressed high interest in working under a geographical indication (GI) label to develop consumers’ hard cider literacy and increase demand. This research further indicates that GIs can act as a powerful economic development tool. Introducing hard cider GIs could address current hard cider industry issues on both the supply side and the demand side.

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