Apple growers are increasingly going into the cider business, often with government assistance aimed at revitalizing regional economies that are grappling with the prospect of aging and dwindling populations, especially among farmers.

As is the case in many agricultural areas in the country, the graying of orchardists is an acute problem in Aomori Prefecture, the nation's largest apple-growing region.

The scarcity of manpower to harvest apples is compounded by the crop's susceptibility to adverse weather conditions, such as typhoons, resulting in income volatility, according to an official of the regional agricultural cooperative known as JA Zen-Noh Aomori.