Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians down more cider, driving up sales by 81%

Nova Scotia's cider makers are seeing a big jump in interest, with sales rising year-over-year to $7.8 million from $4.3 million.

'Customers seem to be getting behind Nova Scotia ciders,' says Dartmouth, N.S., cider maker

Poet Comeau is the owner and cider maker at Lake City Cider in Dartmouth, N.S. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation year-end numbers show Nova Scotians like their cider.

Any doubters who think the cider industry in the province is a flash in the pan should take a close look at the latest sales figures released this week by the NSLC.

Nova Scotia ready-to-drink sales, which are mostly ciders, were up 81 per cent to $7.8 million from $4.3 million the year before. NSLC's fiscal year runs from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019.

"This is great, just as we are going into the hot season with cold cider on patios," said Poet Comeau, owner and cider maker at Lake City Cider in Dartmouth, N.S. "We're happy to see it come to fruition and customers seem to be getting behind Nova Scotia ciders."

Much like the explosion of local craft beer in the last decade, cider makers are now seeing their industry take off. NSLC stores now carry cider products from a dozen producers in Nova Scotia and that number is expected to increase in the next year.

"People have been focusing more on consuming local products," said Michael Lim, operations manager at Chain Yard Cider in Halifax. "We're purchasing apples from farmers who are just about an hour away."

Workers at Chain Yard Cider in Halifax fill cans of cider. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Cider is made from fermented juices of apples. The skyrocketing numbers should be good news for apple growers as the cider market opens up another avenue for them to sell their product.

Both Chain Yard Cider and Lake City Cider are relatively new to the cider industry.

"We did expand our production this year," said Lim. "We expanded our tank capacity by about 50 per cent and that has maxed out our production facility."

The sign on the wall at Chain Yard Cider in Halifax. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Across Halifax harbour, Lake City Cider just celebrated its first anniversary since opening.

"If you are producing a good quality product then the customer is going to keep coming back to what they know and trust," said Comeau.

"I think cider is really just starting, there is a lot of potential, and the better practices that we see in our province then the better products we are going to have."

A freshly poured glass of cider at Lake City Cider. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Nova Scotia craft beer sales continue to trend upwards, with a 27 per cent increase to $16.7 million.

Compared to the previous fiscal year, net income for the NSLC was $237 million, down $1.2 million, but total sales were up by $36.4 million to $662.1 million.

The NSLC report shows $33.2 million in recreational cannabis sales. There were 866,800 cannabis transactions, with an average dollar value of $38.29.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.

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