CHAPEL DOWN HAS POSTED A PROFIT OF NEARLY £2M IN A DRAMATIC COMEBACK FROM A PREVIOUS LOSS, reports City AM and the Telegraph. In results posted this week, the chairman said that English wine is a “thriving” category, with Chapel Down’s wines and spirits gross profit leaping 37% to £7.05m. The results come after the Kent firm divested its beer and cider business to focus entirely on English wine production. The Chief Executive said that “more unpredictable” weather in southern Europe is giving opportunities to newer countries to compete. Growing conditions in the UK are similar now to those seen in Champagne in the 1970s, when some of the best quality champagne was produced. Chapel Down will soon have c.900 acres under vine.
Chapel Down toasts to profit nearing £2m as English wine ‘thrives’ (cityam.com)
British and Nordic vineyards ‘can end the era of champagne’ (telegraph.co.uk)
BIDDENDEN CIDER HAS LAUNCHED A NEW DRINK FOR SUMMER. Ice Cider 2021 is an intense, sweet drink, made from Kent Egremont Russet and Bramley apples. With an ABV of 9%, the apples are hand-picked and pressed on site within 12 hours of harvest. The liquor is fermented like a sweet wine for four months before bottling. Experience from sister brand Biddenden Wines has been used in the creation of the drink, making it a good alternative for sweet wine lovers.
Looking for the Perfect Sweet Wine Alternative for Summer? Try Biddenden’s Latest Release: an Intense, Sweet Ice Cider made in the Garden of England – Biddenden Vineyards
THE RURAL ECONOMY IS 18% LESS PRODUCTIVE THAN THE UK AVERAGE, reports Farming UK and the CLA, among others. A new report from a cross-party group of MPs and peers slams the lack of government policy in this regard, noting that no government in recent memory has had a program to unlock the economic and social potential of the countryside. It notes that if the rural economy gap was reduced, it could add £43bn to the UK economy. Findings include a broken planning system, a lack of skills provision, labour shortages, supermarkets’ strangehold on pricing, poor broadband connections and a lack of affordable housing. “Homes are unaffordable…well-paid jobs can be scarce. And broadband can be painfully slow.”
FRUIT & VEG GROWERS AR FACING INFLATION RATES OF UP TO 24%, reports Farming UK. The report shows that the key inflation drivers are energy and fertiliser, with labour continuing to be the industry’s largest cost, representing 30-70% of turnover. These rapidly rising costs could lead to a 10% fall in production. Surging costs could also lead to produce being left unharvested and, in a worst-case scenario, producers being forced out of the sector altogether. For certain products, the cost of production has gone up by as much as 13p per pack.
THE FREE RANGE EGG SECTOR FACES A DIRE FUTURE DUE TO SOARING COSTS, reports Farming UK. More than 27m hens will be allowed outside again on Monday, having been kept inside since 29 November to protect them from bird flu. But there remains a crisis facing the egg sector, with huge hikes in energy, transport, feed and labour costs having devastating consequences for the sector. 51% of free range and organic egg farmers are considering leaving the sector, and the industry body BFREPA is calling for at least a 40p per dozen increase in prices immediately – or 80p per dozen organic.
THE COST OF FARMING INPUTS HAS INCREASED BY AN EYE-WATERING 23% IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS, reports Farming UK. This is on top of the 22% rise in the previous 12 months. Four out of nine categories saw double digit inflation, with animal feed, fuel and fertiliser seeing greatest increases at 27%, 29.4% and 107.7% respectively. Cereals and OSR production show the highest increases in costs at 28.05% and sugar beet growing as the lowest, but still at 18.97%. The only food group to show negative inflation is potatoes.
The Kent County Show is back
9am to 5pm daily
The Kent Showground, Detling ME14 3JF
Tickets currently available online at www.kcas.org.uk
Children go free. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome.
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