Growers’ leaders have called on the multiples to sell Class I loose Cox apples at an average retail price of £1.59/kg.
Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears, said that producers could look forward to a good season if the retailers were prepared to maintain a similar level of support to last year.
Speaking prior to the official launch of the 40,000 tonne season this week, he praised retailers for their support and recognition of the popularity of the UK’s most famous dessert apple variety.
And he estimated that this year English Apples and Pears and apple marketing companies would be investing some £350,000 promoting sales of all
dessert varieties. Barlow said that he expected the Cox to remain the UK’s major variety, and that this year’s crop would be sold in its entirety. However, he confirmed that British growers were increasingly interested in alternatives. Cox apples were facing growing competition from bicoloured apples, particularly Gala.
“Supermarkets prefer our Gala to imported fruit because of the quality,” said Barlow.
Another potential winner on the horizon was Braeburn, of which planting is steadily increasing. “From 1,000 tonnes last season the figure will be 2,500 tonnes this year with the potential to reach 10,000 tonnes,” he said. “Other varieties, such as Cameo and Jazz, are filling new niche markets and others are in the pipeline.
“Gala and Braeburn now account for 40% of total annual apple sales while changing tastes have also hit the share occupied by Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, which has dropped to 25%.”
The Cox apple industry was “well over the worst”, he said, which was feared three years ago when, despite a larger vintage quality crop, the results proved to be uneconomic.
David Shapley