Michigan’s hard cider comes naturally

The popularity of hard cider is stimulating the growth of new cideries in Michigan with business counseling from the Michigan State University Product Center.

Among the positive trends in the adult beverage industry is hard cider. With double-digit growth (Advertising Age 2011) this fermented alcoholic apple product can be found in retail establishments, bars and restaurants as well as craft breweries, rural wineries and cideries. The entry of Miller-Coors into the market with the acquisition of Crispin Cider Company earlier this year further signals the significance of these product lines.

Hard ciders have wide appeal including those looking for new products and flavors. Hard cider is also naturally gluten-free providing an alternative to most beers.

With Michigan’s status as one of the nation’s largest apple-producing states, home to a world-class craft beer industry, and a winery destination, the development of the hard cider industry seems a logical next step. Michigan State University Extension District Extension Educator, Dr. Nikki Rothwell, cites interest in the recent Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association’s professional and amateur competition as an example of interest. In its seventh year, participation nearly doubled over 2011, and exceeded that of England’s centuries-old Royal Bath & West Cider Competition.

In the Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan, Meckley’s Flavor Fruit Farm Manager, Steve Meckley, prepares his orchard, cider mill and market for another busy summer. On July 1, Steve plans to delight new and familiar customers with his selection of Meckley’s Hard Cyder products in the remodeled hay loft of the family’s historic red barn. Meckley credits Michigan State University Product Center’s Innovation Counselors Mark Thomas and Joanne Davidhizar with assisting him in planning.

“Mark and Joanne were very, very helpful to me in refining my business concept,” says Steve. Meckley’s heritage and tradition since 1956 carries on in a new way.

For business counseling and specialized services, contact the Michigan State University Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.