Molson Coors is back on the acquisition trail in the UK, but this time it has purchased a cider maker — Aspall Cyder Limited — rather than a brewery.

Founded in 1728 by Clement Chevallier and run by the eighth generation of his family, Aspall is an established premium brand. It operates from a single site in the parish of Aspall, Suffolk, where the Chevallier family first planted the orchards at Aspall Hall. Members of the family will remain part of the business.

Phil Whitehead, managing director of Molson Coors UK and Ireland, said: “We’re delighted to add Aspall to the Molson Coors portfolio. Both companies share a similar history that is deeply rooted in family, dedication to customers and a commitment to excellence.

“The Chevalliers have been producing cyder for almost 300 years and their range of brands enhances our existing portfolio. We’re now looking forward to helping Aspall become the number one premium cyder in the UK and building on the huge potential of the Aspall vinegars, as part of an ongoing strategy to premiumise our portfolio.”

Aspall’s chairman, Barry Chevallier Guild, said: “This is an important milestone in Aspall’s long history and a proud day for everyone involved with the company. Having been in close discussions with Molson Coors for over a year, we were delighted to find that they share our rich heritage, passion for making quality cyder and vision for the future development of Aspall and its people.

“Molson Coors is known for respecting the provenance of local brands it has acquired in the past, and has the scale and expertise to accelerate our growth in the premium cider category in the UK and beyond.”

What remains to be seen is where Molson Coors decided to position Aspalls in the market. There are fears that prices for cider could be pushed lower, meaning that small makers can’t compete.

Simon Wright, owner of the Hawkes urban cidery, in London, told Beer Today: “My fears are that Molson Coors will aggressively push Aspall, taking a once premium product and making it cheaper to trade as part of any fully composite deal.

“Knock-on effect is that the trade buyers continue to see cider as a low-value product, thus effecting the growth of smaller producers who can’t compete on price due to the flat duty structure that exists in cider.”