apple orchard

Sales of English Gala apples in the mults are set to hit record levels for the 2015/16 season, with volumes up 19% on last season’s levels.

Improvements in storage technology, picking and more intensive growing techniques had enabled English apple growers to significantly extend the Gala season, said industry body English Apples & Pears, and meant some Gala apples were still on sale well into June, almost a month later than the normal end of the season on 28 May.

Sales were projected to hit 50,000 tonnes by the end of the 2015/16 season on 24 July, said EAP’s outgoing CEO Adrian Barlow, up from 42,000 tonnes last season.

“This is very encouraging for the English apple sector,” he said. “It has been achieved through import replacement and we expect this trend of growth within the multiples to continue to develop for the foreseeable future.”

Sales of Cox’s apples were up from 18,100 tonnes last year to 19,600 tonnes due to a good crop and despite the late start to the season last October caused by adverse weather, Barlow added.

This increase in sales was particularly positive in the face of a general decline in consumption of the variety as consumers preferred sweeter tasting varieties, he said, but Barlow also warned it did not indicate a wider change in trends. “One has to be realistic, demand for Cox has shrunk.”

Overall volume sales of English dessert apples were expected to be up 11%, Barlow said, with Sainsbury’s selling the most English varieties and boasting a market share of 26.8%.