Hardanger Cider Association has worked hard and strategically for 20 years. Through cooperation, working together for gaining knowledge and a common focus on quality, Cider from Hardanger and Norwegian Cider are growing and recognized both nationally and internationally.
Hardanger in the West of Norway is the epicenter of Norwegian Fruit and Cider Production. There are now 24 producers and more are still joining. A rapidly increasing number of members creates more interests and point of views, but mostly it is making the organization stronger and the destination more exciting. Working for a common strategy and goals, and being coordinated for quality, production and sales is extremely important.The mentality is to “make the cake bigger” for all.
Four important successes so far
1. In 2009 Cider from Hardanger received the protected geographical indication label. The Cider associations’ mission is to ensure quality of the products in the market. Gaining knowledge about production and raw materials and sensorics is important to all the producers. We are enhancing the work of establishing a common quality system related to the labeled products.
2. In 2016 the producers were finally able to sell their agricultural products directly from the farm. This has led to farm visits and an investment in cider tasting and related products. The farm is a really important arena for making ambassadors for the Hardanger region and – of course – the individual producers.
3. In 2019 the project “The Cider cluster Hardanger” was established. The producers set their goals for 2025. Producing and selling 1 million liters of cider. Knowing that if the cider business were to succeed, we needed to establish cooperation across businesses and regions. Now sales of cider produced in Hardanger in 2022 were about 440 000 liters and production about 750 000 liters. Production capacity is getting close to 1 million liters. To ensure quality, we need R&D-projects and education. We have been working on a completely tourism concept – how to make the most value out of the products. It has been such a journey working together with hotels, boat shipping companies, restaurants and other activity providers. Hardanger has always been known for its fjord, mountains and stunning nature. Now fruit, cider and culinary experiences are adding a new element to the whole Hardanger package. And the demand for fruit is increasing the price of the apples and giving the farmer better margins.
4. We work together on local, regional and national levels. In 2023 we have established national subject committe for Norwegian cider and fruit wine, with one representative from each cider region. Our mission is to raise awareness about Norwegian Cider both nationally and internationally. And we are working as an organization for common strategies to affect politics, market and sales. We all want the quality of Norwegian Cider to be in world class and would like to tell both Norwegians and foreigners about this.
Important work a head
One obstacle when being a producer of alcoholic beverages is the Norwegian law and the prohibition of alcohol commercials. We are struggling to communicate that our business exists when not being able to tell our stories of what we produce and offer at our farms. This is an important matter to the whole business. Cider is an agricultural product and farm visits and cider tastings are a small part of our tourism and travel products.
The Cider producers are innovative and constantly developing new products – both within the protected indication category and products that are not. What is a Cider from Hardanger – does it have has a clear taste profile? How do we present the many varieties and product categories? There are many interesting debates ahead. Continuous work of our quality system is also on top of the agenda.
By: Anna Gursli Langesæter