Cider Corner: The Move to Self Distribution

​When making the decision to leave your cidery’s tasting room, the thought process is to do it yourself or pursue a distribution deal. Many choose the same route as when they looked to create their cidery: DIY.

Ben Nielsen​ of ​Lassen Cider self distributes because he said he doesn’t produce enough volume to justify going through a distributor.

“It’s been somewhat successful, but staying on top of accounts takes a huge amount of time and effort,” he admitted. “The main benefit is that I don’t have to give up a third of the retail price to the distributor. I would be making much less per bottle if I was using a distributor. One fun aspect of self distribution is that I get to go out there and meet the people who are selling my cider to customers.”

Ronald Sansone, the owner and cidermaker for Spoke + Spy Ciderworks said that cutting out the middleman with less loss of margin is key, along with having control of product up until it is delivered to where it will be served. It also helps to have more communication with bars and restaurants.

Wild Terra co-founder Ethan Hennings added: “You are your best salesperson. Any distributor will tell you they do sales or “push craft” but the reality is that they don’t care about your product or brand as much as you do.”

Nielsen added that he finds it interesting to check out the variety of retail taprooms and bottle shops.

“I think the people who own, manage, or work at these establishments also appreciate being able to meet and know the cidermaker instead of just buying it through a distributor,” he said.

Pricing for ​Jersey Cider Works was more market driven and​,​ to a degree​, a​ part of ​their story.

​”We priced our cider to be as close to the national brands as we could while maintaining craft cues – no added sugar, no preservatives, nothing from concentrate only fresh pressed apples​,” said cidermaker Cameron Stark​. ​”​The strategy works for us based on our infrastructure and desired sales endpoint.​”​

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