​Cider Corner: ​Are you Ready for Distribution?

​Although the state of New York allows self-distribution​ for cideries, Clarksburg Cider chose to sign with a distributor​.

Head cidermaker Eddie Graves, along with CEO Michael Robb, told Brewer that​ based on the volume ​that the Lancaster, New York cidery expected to produce​, getting a partner to help move product was the best idea even as it launched the company​​ in 2021​.

One of the major chain off-premise accounts ​in the Buffalo, New York area ​informed ​Clarksburg what they would need ​as a self-distribution model, which helped set the tone.

​”​This included delivery to individual stores, versus a hub that would send it to different accounts,​” Graves said. “And we would be required to merchandise and maintain these accounts. This would have required us to have multiple drivers and vehicles.

​”​That being said, it made sense to partner with a distributor who could do all those things for us​.”​

READ MORE: Cider Corner: Picking the Right Brands for Distribution

​But making that decision can come down to volume amounts more than need or want, Graves pointed out.

“There is no right answer here for sure,” he said of how a cidery should make the decision. “A lot has to do with market response and market demands or wants, and a little bit of ‘going with our gut,'” he said. “When you see customers in the taproom inhaling a certain SKU at an absorbent amount, then it is obvious.

“Other times, you just know. Like Field of Dreams says, ‘If you make it, they will drink it,’ sort of vibe.”

G​raves said it​ would depend on the amount of product being produced and how many people you have to execute self-distribution​.

“In our business, we allocate at least one person as a driver/merchandiser to properly execute a startup with self-distribution​,” he said.​

​Although only in​ ​the market for a little over a year​, Robb added that it’s really important to build your brand in your backyard before you expand too much.

​”Expansion is at the forefront of my mind​,” he said. “We will be expanding, probably not 2023​, but in 2024 there are some markets that I’d like to expand to.

​”​Because the only way to grow your production is to increase sales and you can only increase sales in a region by so much.​”​

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