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Apple Valley Foods Inc. is branching into the hard cider business.
The Kentville-based operation already offers customers throughout North America a taste of the Annapolis Valley as a major pie producer within Canada.
The sought-after pies are filled with apples predominantly sourced from the Annapolis Valley, and some crops from Ontario.
Adding hard ciders to Apple Valley’s repertoire seemed like a natural progression given the number of fresh ingredients at the company’s figurative fingertips.
“We’re probably one of the largest apple processors in all of the Valley, all of Nova Scotia, for our apple pies at Apple Valley Foods and it’s a great opportunity… to do something else with it,” said Erik Kimbley, a sales rep and process improvement engineer with Apple Valley Foods.
The company started laying the groundwork for its cider division about a year-and-a-half ago, tapping into the expertise of award-winning wine master Dominic Rivard.
“We’re always looking at new products, ways to be innovative,” said Kimbley.
Rivard, who is internationally renowned for his work, was recruited as Apple Valley’s cider maker.
“They’ve got access to incredibly high quality, very cool apple varieties that are actually in (high) demand,” said Rivard.
Dedicated workers devoted to the cause helped sample the cider in the trial stages of development.
“We had gone through many, many renditions of it until we landed on the perfect cider,” said Kimbley.
A firm in Halifax was hired to help Apple Valley cultivate a brand with a Nova Scotia feel that would be relatable in international markets.
The result – Payday Cider – started appearing in NSLC locations in September. There’s Bleedin’ Me Dry, Flush with Cash Rosé and Lite on Funds — all gluten-free beverages with no added concentrate.
“We’ve already been able to start distribution of Payday Cider in western Canada and very, very soon in Asia as well,” said Rivard.
He said the goal is to offer a high-end craft cider to the masses at a reasonable price, reaching markets well beyond Atlantic Canada in the process.
“It’s clean, it’s crisp, it’s true to the fruit, true to the varieties that we’re using.”
The production facility is located in a former Mason Apples building near Windsor. The proximity to Halifax and the Annapolis Valley is desirable.
“We’re there and, depending on the progression of the company, we could also look at expanding the site elsewhere, but right now it’s suiting our needs quite nicely,” said Rivard.
Apple Valley will be paying close attention to sales during its first summer on the market to make projections about the potential for future growth.
“We will easily be able to expand to meet demand,” said Rivard.
Payday Cider is available in participating NSLC locations, the Flying Apron Inn & Cookery in Summerville, Peasant’s Pantry in New Ross, Kellock’s Restaurant in Berwick and The Nook and Cranny in Truro.
“We’re new but we’re excited and we definitely want to grow,” said Rivard.
“We’re looking at ourselves as being a positive contributor to the name of what Nova Scotian cider is.”