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The English Apple Man


6th Oct 2023 - More news on British Apples and Pears

Following on from The English Apple Man Journal from last week (25/9/2023) this week the focus is British Apples and Pears Ltd Chair Ali Capper who also featured in last week's BBC Countryfile programme.


Ali particularly takes issue with Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) who argued that Supermarkets were supporting producers.



Click on Ali Capper Video

On Sunday 24 September 2023, BBC Countryfile broadcast a segment on the dire state of the British apple industry.


Two British apple growers shared their personal experiences of the challenges they face and how low supermarket returns are causing them to make a loss and remove some orchards.


Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, spoke to Countryfile on behalf of the supermarkets. However, his comments have been criticised by members of British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL).


"Andrew Opie said that supermarkets were keeping prices low and implied that's why they couldn't pay growers a fair return. That's simply not true. Said Ali Capper, executive chair of BAPL.


"Shoppers are already paying more - 17% more for British apples in UK supermarkets. It appears retailers have increased the prices of apples and pears to cover their increased costs, but not the increased costs of their suppliers. Someone is making a profit, but it's not growers."


New data released by BAPL, exposes the dramatic shift in the fortunes of British apple and pear growers. BAPL has analysed the published business results of a number of growers that together represent over 70% of the British apple and pear industry. This analysis shows a dramatic drop in profitability.


Across six major growers the average level of profits has declined by 133%. This means that each of these representative businesses has suffered a very significant reduction in profit with many incurring substantial losses. This was inevitable because while the price of apples to the consumer has increased, input cost inflation to growers ran at around 23% while supermarkets paid growers, on average, only 0.8% more than the previous year.


BAPL growers were also surprised by Opie's remarks that supermarkets are fully supportive of British fresh produce.


"Talk is cheap. "Said Ali Capper. "For the BRC to claim that retailers are '100% invested in our British supply chain' is disingenuous at best. The numbers do not lie. Apple growers are not receiving a fair return from supermarkets. This is putting the future of British apple growing at risk. It's a situation that must change and change quickly.


"If retailers really were 'doing their best to ensure a sustainable future' as Andrew Opie claims, we would not see farmers pulling out of apple growing and reducing the numbers of new trees they're planning on planting."


BAPL was also surprised to hear Andrew Opie ask the government for additional support for the industry. "Shoppers are already paying more for their fresh produce. "Explained Ali Capper. "We don't want them to have to pay higher taxes to support the industry as well. We want profit-led investment by growers, but that requires a fair return from supermarkets."


Talking of Supermarkets, The English Apple Man popped into Sainsburys for a little 'pre weekend' shopping and pleased to see new season Cox, Gala, Robijn and ZARI apples on display.


Below: left. JS loose Cox apples and right. JS Robijn x 4 apple pack grown by Victoria Farm Kent



Below: left. JS Gala x 1kg pack and right. JS ZARI x 6 'mini apples' both grown by AC Goatham & Son



Monday 2nd October 2023 will mark the start of the new British apple season and UK growers say that while it may not be a bumper crop, the taste and flavour of the new season fruit is excellent.


British Apple Month


Despite the challenges, BAPL members are working closely with retailers to create in-store theatre celebrating the best of British top fruit. BAPL has also designated October as British Apple Month and will be investing more this year than last year in social media advertising to raise awareness of apples as the 'hidden superfood'.


"The health benefits of apples are sometimes overlooked. But recent comments by Michael Mosely - advocating an apple a day - and new scientific research about the benefits of quercetin have elevated the humble fruit to something of a superfood, "said Ali Capper.


"We know the British public is hugely supportive of the British apple industry. This year, there are more reasons than ever to munch on a British apple a day. Not just a treat for your taste buds but your gut, heart, brain and body too!"


That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man