David Shapley

UK supermarkets are set to make a major effort to push English apple sales using more promotional activities, according to Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English and Apples and Pears.

“We are really encouraged by the enthusiasm being shown,” said Barlow. “There is no doubt that some multiples are really going to pull out all the stops.”

Their job will be made easier this season as Discovery, the first early variety, is being picked about 10 days earlier than last year. The first fruit is expected in store by the end of this week, and total crop volume is 25% higher, reaching 3,500-4,000 tonnes.

There should be good volumes by the week commencing August 11. Barlow expects prices to be between £1.49-£1.59/kg.

The variety withstood the cold weather conditions in April, and subsequently has grown well, he added.

“Cooler nights at present should give excellent colour to a skin finish which is also far better than last year.”

The season is expected to last for some three and a half weeks before the arrival of Worcester. This crop is expected to be a similar size and is due to arrive around the end of August.

Cox is expected around the first week of September.

Meanwhile the Golden Delicious apple season has so far been a difficult one for South African growers, according to Martin Dunnett, marketing manager for Capespan, due mainly to competitive summer fruit. However, programmes are still on course, with five to six weeks’ supplies left, matching relatively well with the start of the European crop.