A Leicestershire craft cider maker is raising a glass to the Food and Drink iNet after being awarded a grant to help the company expand.

The Bottle Kicking Cider Company is being given almost £5,000 by the iNet to help the company raise its profile further afield and to introduce innovative new containers to store its drink.

The company, which is based at Hallaton, between Market Harborough and Uppingham, produces two bottled ciders and one draught cider, and supplies to local businesses, as well as Waitrose in the area.

But now it hopes to step up a gear, increase production and begin selling its drinks across the region and beyond.

“The hope is to grow the cider business and make it as successful as we can in the East Midlands, bearing in mind that the majority of production is in the West Country,” said Rob Morton, who runs the Bottle Kicking Cider Company.

The firm, which was launched two years ago, is match-funding the Food and Drink iNet grant.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. It has developed an effective network to encourage the collaboration of academic expertise and knowledge, and local food and drink business innovation needs. The Bottle Kicking Cider Company aims to use the grant and its own investment to fund marketing expertise.

“We have got to the stage now where we have good presence locally and we need to get some support to help us expand the business and that’s where we are bringing in marketing expertise that can broaden our spread from the local Leicestershire area,” said Rob. “That will really help accelerate our growth plans.”

The second part of the support will help the Bottle Kicking Cider Company to buy specially adapted air-tight containers to store and transport the cider. The company currently rents containers, but buying the recycled, modified containers will be more cost-effective and more sustainable for the business.

The Bottle Kicking Cider Company, named after the famous traditional bottle-kicking gathering that takes place between the villagers of Hallaton and Medbourne every Easter Monday, produces up to 7,000 litres of cider a year using hand-picked apples from Gloucestershire and Leicestershire. It produces Scrambler and Rambler cider in bottles, and a still traditional farmhouse cider on draught.

Food and Drink iNet advisor Stevie Jackson said: “I’m very pleased that the Food and Drink iNet has been able to support the Bottle Kicking Cider Company with its plans for growth and hope that the innovations introduced will help the business to expand and develop.”

The Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by The Food and Drink Forum and including Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.

For more information about the iNet visit www.foodanddrink-inet.org.uk

Press release issued by Nottingham PR company Perfect 10 PR  www.perfect10pr.co.uk