Magners plants for the future

Magners is planting thousands of apple trees across Ireland


slowing sales.

The programme has already seen 200,000

trees planted across some

120ha this year, and the company is recruiting staff to manage the new orchards. In 2009-10 some of Magners' existing orchards will be replanted.

It is also investing in long-term contracts with suppliers and in new orchard management technologies, including the "fruit wall", which mechanises orchard planting so that up to 10,000 trees can be planted in a day.

Magners owner C&C Group reported a 10% drop in its cider division's revenues in the four months to June 30. Income from the UK dropped, although Magners sales are still growing in the UK off-trade, albeit at a slower rate than in past years.

The company blamed

weak trading

in June, unsettled weather and

"a deteriorating economic backdrop" for the slump . It said the

outlook was uncertain.

But Magners marketing manager Scott Fairbairn said: "Cider is the only long alcoholic drinks category showing volume growth in England and Wales, fuelled largely by packaged cider. Magners' continued investment in the orchard development programme demonstrates our desire to provide the highest quality cider, using the best raw materials , to meet the growing demand.

"We are committed to optimising and improving our existing orchards, while building new, strong and sustainable orchard s to drive the cider category forwards."

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