ONE of the UK's largest cider manufacturers has unveiled a new £3million packaging line at its plant near Ledbury.

Weston's Cider has introduced the new machinery at its site in Much Marcle, near Ledbury.

The new canning line will be used to package 12,500 cans per hour after demand rose during lockdown.

Helen Thomas, managing director and great-granddaughter of founder Henry Weston, said: "During lockdown – as pubs, bars and restaurants sadly closed their doors – sales of our ciders soared in supermarkets.

“This unexpected surge in demand made clear just how important it is for us to control our own destiny, particularly when it comes to getting our world-renowned ciders from our Herefordshire mill into people’s hands.

“For us, that meant bringing more of our supply chain in house and investing in our own canning line.

“While it’s a significant investment, this new line will enable us to package each and every can of cider right at the heart of the Westons Cider mill and will mean we’ll be less reliant on third parties – ultimately helping to future-proof the business."

Westons Cider employs 230 people at its mill in Much Marcle, near Ledbury, Herefordshire and has a turnover of £65 million.

The site attracts 40,000 visitors every year and is now open for pre-booked tours, while its Scrumpy House restaurant is now open for indoor and outdoor dining, as well as takeaways.

Run by the fourth generation of the Weston family, the company produces popular ciders including Henry Westons Vintage, Stowford Press, Old Rosie, Mortimer’s Orchard and Rosie’s Pig.