With the growth of cider in the United States, there was a void that was noticeable in the cider scene. The void was in advocacy. They needed an organization to help the cider industry as a whole move forward and develop. This is where the USACM came in to fill the gap and operate as an asset. If you are unfamiliar the USACM, which stands for the United States Association of Cider Makers, they are an organization of cider and perry producers focused on the growth of the industry. They mainly focus on providing information, resources, and services to the members and helping advocate for the industry.
A primary focus of the organization is education for consumers and cohesiveness in the industry. They attack these areas with the Cider Lexicon Project. This project focuses on developing the correct terminology that consumers and producers can understand alike. They have divided this project into three pillars: cider style guide, cider vocabulary, and dryness scale. The cider style guide is a comprehensive and ever-growing document defining the style of cider in the US. This can range from modern, to heritage, to ice ciders, and all in between. This will enable producers to properly categorize their cider and assist consumers in defining what exactly they are looking for or enjoy. Another pillar involves the cider vocabulary which is aimed to launch in 2018. This will enhance the experience and understanding of the industry with common rhetoric for the whole industry. The final, and possibly most important pillar, is defining a dryness scale. If you are a cider fan and find a cider on the shelf, you will see that the word sweet or dry can define a large spectrum of sweetness. USACM is looking to refine this scale and assist the consumer in finding the right product for them.
With the education in place for the consumer, the organization continues to develop their CCP program, also know as the certified cider professional program. This is focused on educating industry distributors, servers, and others in the industry to become active experts in the field. This is very similar to the cicerone program for the beer industry and helps elevate the industry through education. They are currently developing additional modules to continue the program and further increase the education in the space.
Some other programs they are working on involve advocacy, cider market research, cider association leadership networking, and cider industry research grants. More information on these programs can be found on their website. How does USACM get cider makers together and into global initiatives? Meet CiderCon and the Pick Cider initiative.
CiderCon is the culmination of everything the cider industry and USACM stands for. This yearly event gathers members together from all facets of the industry to meet, greet, and learn. Beyond just being an exciting event, producers share best practices and innovations to continue to diversify the marketplace. If you are in the cider industry, this is a must-attend event and will be back in Chicago in 2019!
The Pick Cider campaign is an initiative that gives members promotional tools and started similar to the “Got Milk” campaign years ago. It focuses on modern and heritage cider marketing, both with physical materials as well as digital tools. The campaign is built around Thanksgiving, for a variety of reasons, but they are always events and recipes on the site that can be created to bring everyone closer together and further the initiative.
Wow, what an exciting time to be alive in the cider world. If this does not get you excited for the future of the cider industry, I don’t know what would. If you would like to learn more or become a member of the group, please visit their website here: https://ciderassociation.org/. Be part of the movement and help cider continue to grow!