Ed Bedington
Sainsbury's campaign to boost English top fruit is beginning to show results in terms of market share, according to the multiple.
Pear buyer Jay Norbury said the focus on English top fruit was producing results: "Market share is coming through and getting growth."
Under the strapline The English are coming', Sainsbury launched a campaign to promote UK produce in the run-up to the season. The campaign targets all 14 varieties of English apples the retailer stocks.
Sainsbury top fruit technologist Tristan Kitchener said the multiple hoped to sell 2,000 tonnes of Gala apples this year. He said there was growing demand for English Braeburn. "We are looking to take 160 tonnes this year, up from about 60 or 70 tonnes last year." This year's low volumes of Cox might pose quality issues, he said, but the chain was prepared to be flexible to maximise supply.
The retailer has also stepped up training for produce managers and created incentives for stores to make the best fruit offering.
Kitchener said Sainsbury was also working on a research and development project into Braeburn apples with the Apple and Pear Research Council and supplier Orchard World .
Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears, said there was a need for more collaboration and better prices.
"There has to be much more of a partnership between retailers and growers," he said. "We need to ensure the growers are getting adequate returns, not only to provide a reasonable standard of living but also to ensure they can re-invest for the future."