October 12, 2005 | By: Aimee Nielson
LEXINGTON, Ky.

For many people fall ushers in such seasonal favorites as football, hayrides, pumpkin carving and fresh apple cider. 

However, according to market research released by the NPD Group, a provider of global and consumer retail information, fewer Americans are enjoying the taste of cider these days. Less than 2 percent of Americans consumed apple cider in 2004.

“The decline in consumption of apple cider is a good example of challenges facing U.S. fruit and vegetable growers,” said Matt Ernst, University of Kentucky agricultural economics Extension associate. “Consumer preferences have changed to favor juice, which is available year-round, rather than cider.”

Ernst noted that profits for U.S. juice apples, grown in the Pacific Northwest, have been slim, mostly because of competition from lower priced juice concentrate available from foreign exporters like Argentina and China.

Still, in Kentucky, apple growers have been able to squeeze out profits from cider.

“In recent years, tobacco settlement monies have been used to fund state-of-the-art cider presses in Bowling Green and Georgetown,” Ernst said. “Located at farm orchards, these facilities use the presses to ‘flash pasteurize’ cider.”

Flash pasteurization is a process that preserves taste and also eliminates the possibility of bacterial contamination. Even though these presses are not available at every orchard, all orchards in the area have access to them to manufacture cider from their own apples.

“Kentucky orchards do face another challenge, however,” Ernst pointed out. “They still have to get their cider into local supermarkets and other retail venues.”

As Kentucky orchards supply higher quality cider locally, consumers must decide whether flash pasteurized local cider is a part of their shopping list this fall.

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Matt Ernst 257-7272, ext. 223