Challenge: Being unable to find a favorite beverage in Atlantic Canada
Solution: Creating a new sector – and a thirst for cider – in the region
In 2012, Nicola Mason and Adam Clawson incorporated Red Rover Craft Cider – and broke new ground in New Brunswick. Until they opened their company in Fredericton, there were no cider-makers in the province and no local cider on liquor store shelves.
In part, this was a regulatory issue, says Adam. “At the time, the province did not have any policy allowing cider or wine to be made outside of a farm. We were the first in the sector.”
In 2013, as Nicola and Adam continued to test and refine their product, a policy was put in place enabling them to make their cider. On February 13, 2014, the first flagon was filled in Atlantic Canada.
Building a market for craft cider proved difficult. There were no regulations in place allowing for distribution. A loophole, however, proved to offer up an opportunity, notes Adam. “We were able to go to farmers’ markets and sell our products using refillable bottles.”
Since then business has been brisk. A new government policy now enables Red Rover cider to be sold in provincial liquor stores, and there is a growing thirst for cider made from 100% juice. The company has outgrown its original space and, with help from ACOA, moved into a new downtown facility – increasing capacity from 1,200 square feet to 6,000 square feet. “We knew if we wanted to get into new markets, we had to be able to meet market demand,” says Adam.
Red Rover not only branched out to new markets, including liquor stores in Prince Edward Island, it opened its own restaurant, the Cider House, and now has a retail operation up and running.
Red Rover’s growing reputation for excellence is helping the company introduce people to the smooth taste of apple cider. In 2015, for the first time, the Canadian Brewing Award added ciders to the styles being judged. Red Rover won gold for its Fire Cider and walked away with top honours as Cidery of the Year. An additional eight medals followed over the next year alone.
“Innovation is the lifeblood of our company,” says Adam. “As a business you can’t afford to stagnate. If you do, you will become dated and irrelevant.”
Collaborating with the Government of Canada has played a key role in Red Rover’s continued growth. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Government of Canada is helping Red Rover be more efficient and competitive in their market. An investment of a little over $114,000 went towards the construction of an automated bottling line that allowed the company to streamline production, create new products, and expand into export markets.
Red Rover is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to canada.ca/acoa