'Last batch' of Blackthorn cider made in Somerset

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The cider mill in Shepton Mallet is owned by Irish cider-maker the C&C Group

Production of four "iconic" cider brands has come to an end at a cider mill in Somerset, a union has said.

The last batches of Blackthorn, Olde English, Addlestones and Natch have been made, Unite said, before production is moved to Ireland.

In January the C&C Group said consolidating production at its Clonmel site was "the only viable option to maintain long-term competitiveness".

Unite said it feared famous Somerset ciders could be lost forever.

'Lost forever'

Steve Preddy, from the union, said the firm "appears hell-bent on shutting down this profitable mill" at Shepton Mallet.

"We fear famous Somerset ciders with names such as Dry Blackthorn could be lost forever with 120 dedicated workers losing their jobs and a 246-year-old cider-making heritage in the town disappearing forever," he said.

Last month the C&C Group released a trading update saying it expected its operating profit from the past 12 months to be 103 million euros (£82m) which "provides grounds for optimism".

However, union members have once again branded the closure of the Shepton Mallet site as "completely unnecessary" and called for the firm to find a buyer for the site and the brands made there.

Some 40 redundancies, half of which were voluntary, have already been announced at the cider mill.

The C&C Group said fruit pulping would continue on site and apples would still be sourced from local farmers.

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