Hard cider production has increased annually by 50% between 2009 and 2014 in the United States while apple (Malus×domestica) orchards managed exclusively for cider apples are rare. Cider apples have unique flavor, acid, and tannin characteristics suited to only hard cider production. Demand for fruit by cider makers represents an emerging market for apple growers and an opportunity to diversify their production and marketing systems. The goal of this study was to compare the fruit requirements of cider makers with present cider fruit availability in orchards to identify opportunities and challenges for the growth of both industries, and we surveyed cider makers and apple growers. Growers in our study saw a market expansion opportunity in the growth of popularity of hard cider, but present apple prices were identified as a key threat. Cider makers are also expanding their operations, all of those sampled anticipate increasing their production in the next five years, but maintaining adequate fruit supply was identified as a major threat. Cider makers and apple growers have both expressed interest in dual-purpose cultivars that may be sold to the fresh market or for cider making. Apple growers have expressed guarded interest in growing specialty cider cultivars while cider makers have expressed a strong interest in increased production of cider-specific cultivars. We conclude that there are a number of potentially beneficial opportunities, particularly in increased production of dual-purpose and specialty cider cultivars, as long as price and coordination issues can be resolved.
This article addresses the economic costs of good agricultural practices (GAPs) audits of small and medium size farms in Vermont. It focuses on the costs of infrastructure, equipment, and labor required to successfully pass a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) GAPs audit. In-depth interviews and surveys of produce farmers in 2011 revealed that the cost of GAPs certification ranges between $37 and $54 per acre, and an additional 7 hours were required each week during the growing season. Based on this exploratory research, certifying all the farms in Vermont would cost between $228,216 and $3,019,114. Our study explored all the criteria of the certification and measured the costs of GAPs from planning stages to daily record keeping more than one year after the certification was achieved. This study provides information to farmers who are considering GAPs certification. It also provides background information to agricultural service providers and policymakers planning for the future of the fresh produce industry.