New Brunswick

Red Rover cider producer eyes Chinese market

A Fredericton craft cider producer is looking to the Far East to expand its business.

A deal to sell New Brunswick-made cider in China could lead to massive growth, owner says

Adam Clawson, the owner of Red Rover, calls the planned expansion into China huge. (CBC/Joe McDonald)

A Fredericton craft cider producer is looking to the Far East to expand its business.

Red Rover Craft Cider has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese firm, Greenland International
Trade Group, to sell products in China.

Adam Clawson, the owner of Red Rover, said the memorandum is "huge" for the company, which now sells its cider in the three Maritime provinces.

"It means that a very large company in China is willing to to work with us on creating a brand portfolio of our product in their stores in the Chinese market," Clawson said.

He said the partnership is just a test for now, but if it's successful, it could generate massive growth for the cidery.

"If the test goes well, it would mean significant growth, not just in New Brunswick but in the Maritime region in general," said Clawson.

"The Chinese market is huge and even one very small contract is comparable to entire provinces in Canada."

New look

Rustic designs have been replaced by sleeker labels to give the cider an air of prestige buyers in China will appreciate, Clawson says. (CBC/Joe McDonald)

The company's entrance into the Chinese market has brought a redesign of its bottles.

The previous, more rustic, designs have been replaced with sleeker designs meant to lend an air of prestige to the product.

"We got an understanding of what was wrong with our existing brand and what we could do to create a new brand," said Clawson.

"We brought that back to a design house based in based in Fredericton here, [which] did a lot of research, not just in China and in Canada but also in Europe, and created a fusion brand that sort of kept the heritage of Red Rover being an English-style cider, the prestige of being a Canadian product but really appealed to to the Chinese market as well."

No political concerns

An old design for Red Rover cider. (CBC)

Relations between Canada, the United States and China are in a complicated place now, partly because of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of telecom company Huawei, in Canada at the request of the United States.

But Clawson isn't concerned that chilly relations will affect his business.

"A high-quality product tends to jump those sort of barriers based on the fact that as long as there's a demand, then an importer will always be interested in bringing that product in, regardless of the obstacles," he said.

"I'm pretty confident."

With files from Harry Forestell