I love cider, it’s number 2 in my list of favorite alcoholic beverages after wine. Peter loves it even more (beer is still number 1 for him though, he’s British after all). So seeing the mighty apple harvest in my parent’s garden, and longing for some scrumpy cider (we do miss England sometimes) we’ve decided to make our own cider! Peter’s dream came true :)
Unfortunately, cider is not that popular in Russia compared to the UK although it’s considered to be a traditional Russian drink same as pear cider (“puare”) or “medovukha” (oh, many Russians do not know what they are missing out on!). Sadly cider making industry received quite a devastating blow last year when it got under compulsory licensing on alcoholic drinks law (unlike beer industry), which meant that producers had to pay around 10 to 30 million rubles ($315K to $945K) to license their product and to be able to sell it legally in the country. Average cost of a cider making plant (considering that most of the producers are small to medium sized companies) is around 20-25 million rubles ($630K – $787K) (source: mk.ru), so obviously a big portion of cider making companies went bust. Natural low-alcoholic drinks like cider or medovukha take up only around 0.05% of the market (source: solidarnost.org ), I can’t believe how low this figure is! They say that cider consumption and production in Russia are one of the lowest in the world! It’s only about 3.7 liters per year (2011 stats). For instance, in Australia in 2011 about 56.5 million liters of cider was sold (source: onlinelibrary.wiley.com). According to various independent market researchers around 33% of apple harvest in Russia goes simply to waste. That could have been a lot of cider, you know!
Fortunately in March 2013 new amendment into the law went into effect which now exempts brewers of low-alcoholic beverages like cider from licensing which is an immense relief for all companies who were able to stay afloat for the past year. This also means that we should see more natural Russian cider, which I really want to try!
I believe Russia should switch from drinking heavy spirits like vodka to drinking lighter beverages like cider or beer. Or country consumes around 15-17 liters of pure alcohol per person a year whereas in other developed countries this figure doesn’t exceed 3-4 liters per person (source: uecs.ru). So hopefully in the next few years market share of cider or puare would be much higher than today, and we would see less vodka on our supermarket shelves but more natural low-alcohol drinks.