The Michigan Cider Association, a new industry group for cider manufacturers in the state, hopes to leverage the existing strength around the craft-beer industry as a whole to improve brand awareness for the product.
The rising popularity of craft beer is helping to make room for different kinds of beverages at the pub—and cider makers are working to leverage that momentum.
And Michigan, already one of the country’s largest producers of apples and a hub of some serious craft brews, wants to leverage that position of strength in building its hard cider industry.
Late last year, the Michigan Cider Association (MCA) launched with two goals in mind: to improve the industry’s relationship with the apple growers that supply the industry with its key product and to build awareness among drinkers.
“We’re really looking for folks that are energized to use time and resources making this collective effort worthwhile,” MCA Founder Paul Vander Heide told Mitten Brew back in November. “So many times in business, you’ll see an association or guild with not a lot coming out of it. We want to make it worthwhile. We think the opportunity is there.”
The association, which was born from a larger regional group, ultimately decided to break off in order to better meet specific needs of cider brewers in Michigan. The Great Lakes Cider and Perry Association, a group that covers six states and a Canadian territory, has a much larger scope.
“We thought there was a lot we could be doing as a state organization that may not be as much of a benefit to outlying states or could have specific benefits to Michigan cider makers and agriculture,” Vander Heide told MiBiz.
The association’s growth reflects a wider phenomenon in craft brew organizations. The Brewers Association holds major clout in Washington, DC, and state-level groups have been on the rise of late. Michigan, in particular, has been a hub for growth in the association space for alcoholic beverages; last year Fermenta, a group for female brewers in Michigan, launched with much fanfare.
“I think the biggest difference for me in the last two and a half years here is I no longer have to convince a bar owner to carry cider on draft,” MCA member Jason Lummen, who runs The Peoples Cider Co., told MiBiz. “I now only have to convince them to carry my cider on draft.”