By Jonathan Martin
The Ontario Craft Cider Association (OCCA) aims to increase the reach of its fruit-based beverages.
The association is using funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to launch a multi-faceted marketing campaign “to help Ontario consumers have a better understanding of local craft cider and its unique qualities,” an OCCA release said Monday.
“We use 100 per cent Ontario apples and all of our ingredients and inputs are from the province,” said Richard Liu, OCCA’s chairman in the release. “We’re proud of that and the role we play in agriculture in Ontario – and that’s what we want to highlight to get more people interested in Ontario craft cider.”
As part of the project, OCCA is ramping up its digital presence through increased social media efforts and a new website. The OCCA will hold marquee events focusing on craft cider in June – a month the organization is deeming Ontario Craft Cider Month.
The LCBO, bars and restaurants will undertake promotional events in conjunction with the OCCA. The goal is to raise craft cider’s market share by spreading brand awareness, Liu said.
“We know that we needed to work on marketing but we haven’t been able to do it until now,” he added. “Having this funding is extremely critical to our growth in the province and helping us achieve that greater market share.”
The Ontario government announced that it would allow nearly 300 more stores to sell alcohol last week, bringing the total number of alcohol retailers in the province to nearly 3,000. The announcement followed the release of a report by Ken Hughes, Ontario’s special advisor for the Beverage Alcohol Review, recommending that Ontario “make purchasing alcohol more convenient for consumers.”
The provincial government is also in talks with the alcoholic beverage industry to expand alcohol sales into corner stores, big-box stores and grocery stores beyond the 450 grocers already allowed to make alcohol sales.