Mac Ivor’s Cider in Armagh has recently become more widely available than ever in the Republic of Ireland as a result of a significant deal with Dunnes Stores, the biggest retailer in this important marketplace for Northern Ireland producers.
Based near Portadown on family-owned orchards, Mac Ivor’s is now supplying three varieties - Traditional Dry Cider, Plum and Ginger Cider and Alcohol Free to Ireland’s leading retail chain of over 100 stores as a result of an agreement lined up by Dundalk-based Noreast, the Armagh company’s exclusive distributor in the Republic.
Mac Ivor’s is the most recent producer in Northern Ireland’s dynamic cider sector to rack up important deals in export markets. Other export-led cider companies from Armagh to win deals outside Northern Ireland during the pandemic include Long Meadow and Tempted, both based on apple orchards near Loughgall.
Long Meadow, a family business owned by apple farmer Pat McKeever, wife Catherine and son Peter, has won business with major UK online grocer Amazon as a result of a collaboration with a Cheshire craft brewery assisted by McCracken’s Real Ale, also based in Portadown and is now growing sales in Britain.
Tempted, another craft business in Armagh founded and owned by Davy Uprichard and wife Janet, has won breakthrough business with Ocado, the UK’s biggest online grocer which has particularly strong sales in London and the Home Counties. The important deal with Ocado is the latest outcome of the endeavours of Drinksology Kirker Greer in Belfast, Tempted’s distributor in Britain and other international markets.
Managing director Greg Mac Neice, who founded Mac Ivor’s Cider in 2011 and a fifth generation family apple grower, continues: “We are delighted to be working with the team at Dunnes Stores on the development of sales of our ciders across the island of Ireland. This is a marvellous boost for our business with such an important nationwide retailer.
“We were given the opportunity to present our full cider range to the Dunnes buying team in person over a year ago and they were extremely well received. The fact that all core lines had been awarded Gold medals from the International Brewing and Cider Awards gave Dunnes further confidence in the quality, outstanding taste and consistency of our ciders. However, the discussions had to be paused due to Covid pandemic.”
The discussions resumed earlier in the year and agreement was reached to give shoppers a broad choice of the company’s extensive range of ciders from Ireland’s Orchard Country. The handcrafted ciders from Mac Ivor’s went on sale in the Republic in May.
“From our delicious Traditional Dry Cider with its incredible depth and long lasting flavour through to our unique rosé coloured Plum and Ginger cider to our new Alcohol Free Cider for those who want all the taste of real cider without the alcohol, we believe that there is something for everyone in our product range. These Irish craft ciders are made entirely from the juice of fresh apples – four whole apples in every bottle,” adds Greg.
The company also supplies cider products to SuperValu/Centra and Tesco for stores in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It has also supplied Marks and Spencer stores in Northern Ireland. Mac Ivor’s Ciders, in addition, has won UK Great Taste Awards and Blas na hEireann Awards for excellence.
Both Long Meadow and Tempted have also won national awards for their ciders from influential bodies such as the UK Guild of Fine Food and Blas na hEireann, the Irish National Food Awards. Tempted has won the Best Cider category at Blas, which is held annually at Dingle in Co Kerry.
The achievements of Long Meadow, Mac Ivor’s and Tempted outside Northern Ireland signal the region’s growing emergence as an internationally ranked cider producer. Other local producers which has won awards for high-quality ciders include the Troughton family’s Armagh Cider Company, another apple farm based processor in Armagh and the region’s oldest producer, Andrew Boyd’s Kilmegan in Dundrum, and Big Cox.
Armagh Cider Company’s Carson’s Crisp has been named among the ‘Best British Ciders’. Made from apple juice rather than concentrates, Carson’s Crisp is among an extensive product portfolio developed by the family business over five generations. Armagh Cider Company and Kilmegan have both won International Cider Challenge Awards.
Irish cider is also seen by Bord Bia, the energetic Irish food marketing body, as a business sector with a bright future especially in international markets.
And Pete Brown, an acknowledged expert writer on cider based in Britain, has lauded Northern Ireland’s “unique cluster of processors still making cider from pure apple juice, mostly sourced from their own orchards” unlike many producers outside Ireland which produce cider from reconstituted concentrate.
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