A new Tasmanian cider created by Carlton & United Breweries has been slammed as a copycat product by Willie Smith’s Organic Cider.
Bonamy’s Apple Cider is produced by CUB-owned Tasmanian Cider Co (TCCo), the Mercury Cider maker located at the Cascade Brewery in Hobart.
“Bonamy’s comes from the Tasmanian Cider Co which started making quality ciders over 100 years ago harnessing the skills and techniques of a French winemaker named Auguste Bonamy,” CUB says.
But the product’s brand aesthetic has incensed Willie Smith’s, which took to Facebook with an acerbic post about the likeness to its brand.
“When you see CUB’s recent history, they’re not really reading from the ‘how to win friends and influence people’ playbook,” founder Sam Reid told Australian Brews News.
“We saw it with Byron Bay Pale Lager and now Wild Yak Pacific Ale – they’ve got a bit of a history of unoriginality and trying to rip off provenance.”
Reid said that while it may not infringe the Willie Smith’s trade mark, he is concerned about the potential for confusion with his brand, which has been trading since 2012.
“We’re still very young on the mainland, we still have very low levels of awareness,” he told Australian Brews News.
“Suddenly there’s another cider that’s got a map of Tassie just like ours on the badge, and the bottle looks pretty similar too, if you ask me – a black bottle with a white label.
“If they go and give a truckload of money to the retail chains, they could lock us out of that space,” said Reid.
Real cider foray
Bonamy’s was one of several new ciders brought to market by CUB in recent weeks, also including Pure Blonde Crisp Apple Cider, Little Green Sweet Apple Cider and two cider and soda water blends under the Spring Cider Co label.
But in contrast to these new products and all CUB’s pre-existing ciders, Bonamy’s has been made using 100 per cent real Tasmanian apples, a move welcomed somewhat sarcastically by Reid, who is also president of Cider Australia.
“I’m pleased they’re making a cider that is not from Chinese concentrate – that’s a bit of a win,” he said.
Provenance equals quality
Bonamy’s is the second attempt by CUB/Foster’s at a ‘real’ cider with Tasmanian provenance and a brand connection to Auguste Bonamy.
Mercury Artisan was launched in 2008 and subsequently deleted.
CUB’s trade presenter for Bonamy’s says 60 per cent of cider consumers believe quality is always worth paying more for, and “genuine provenance and product quality drives value”.
“They must have all attended a provenance workshop,” commented a sarcastic Reid.
“I think it reflects the new paradigm, where provenance is becoming a lot more relevant for everyone,” he said.
“And so it should, because where the fruit’s grown is the really important part of cider – much like wine.”
A CUB spokesperson told Australian Brews News: “We tip our hat to Willie Smith’s and thank them for their best wishes (and cheeky dig) for Bonamy’s.
“We love Tasmania and are very proud of our long links to the Apple Isle… maybe it’s something to be discussed over a couple of the best ciders the state has to offer,” she said.