Okanagan apple farmers get an economic lift from Broken Ladder

Flats of Broken Ladder cider are being snapped upfaster than can be produced, creating the most delicious dilemma

Flats of Broken Ladder cider are being snapped up  faster than can be produced, creating the most delicious dilemma local agriculturalists have seen in some time.

“We are constantly hearing, ‘I’m out,'” said Shannon Forgues, BC Tree Fruit’s Cidery Co.  promotions Manager. “Right when the first palates (of cider) come off the line, I’m there shipping them out to wherever they need to be. And when we think we have enough we run  into the same dilemma again.”

With each palate of cider being gulped up, the need for more local fruit arises and that’s where local co-op members see rewards.

“For the first time in a long time we’re able to use the apples that didn’t necessarily have a lot of value before,” said Forgues “Now we have a home for them, and it’s a home that’s generating revenue.”

So much so that Forgues has been told that there are farmers once again planting fruit trees—something that would have been unheard of just six years ago.

As recently as 2010 the cost of producing apples was higher than the revenue farmers generated. Repeated years of losses prompted longtime farmers to start pulling out their crops and putting their farms up for sale.

Joe Sardinha, then president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association, said in an interview at the time that the business had simply become unsustainable.

“It’s to do with the apple market specifically — it’s in a meltdown mode,” said Sardinha, in  2010, pointing out that the issue started in 2008.

Agritourism and value added fruit products were often discussed as the potential saviour of the industry. Some local farmers branched out and did their own value-added projects, but the the co-op didn’t get to it until 2015, when they launched BC Tree Fruits Cidery Company’s broken Broken Ladder.

The cider’s name is an homage to the farms that form the basis of the business—all farms have a broken down apple picking ladder stashed away somewhere —but it’s not all agriculture at the cider’s headquarters.

The cider is a strong stand alone product that won acclaim among foodies as well as international awards in its first year. That gave the powers that be cause to branch out this summer.

The company created two new ciders for release this spring: Pears and Apples & Hops.

“It was another labor-intensive recipe process,” says Michael Daley, Cidery Manager. “The results are two new varieties of cider, Pears and the unique taste of Apples & Hops. These, in addition to Apples will be available in BC Liquor stores and private retail stores mid-April.”

Pears and Apples & Hops remain true to the core like the original apples blend, with no added sugars or additives. All fruit is locally grown in British Columbia’s Okanagan orchards by BC Tree Fruits Cooperative growers.

With the award-winning success of the original Broken Ladder Apples blend, and the abundance of apples grown every year, BC Tree Fruits Cider Co wanted to create something a bit drier with complex tastes and aromas. Apples & Hops brings the beer and cider worlds together to appeal to true cider fans and offer something new to the beer drinker. The hops adds a dryness to the overall juiciness of the apple, bringing out the citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon on the palate and the nose.

“Craft cider continues to be one of the fastest growing categories in the beverage sector,” said Daley. “BC Tree Fruits’ place in this market is a perfect fit. We are an authentic homegrown producer. Apples and pears are handpicked and crushed right in our own mill, resulting in premium ciders.”