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British Apples & Pears said the cumulative effect of multiple years of increased costs was ‘hurting growers, financially and mentally’

The cost of producing a kilo of apples has continued to rise faster than the returns received by growers.

New data from farm business consultants Andersons, commissioned by British Apples & Pears, has revealed that it now costs £1.33 to produce a kilo of British apples, an increase of 5.5% compared with £1.26 in 2023.

The growers’ organisation said the cumulative effect of multiple years of increased costs was “hurting growers, financially and mentally” as cost of production had risen by 30% over the past couple of years, while returns had gone up by only 8%.

“There is simply no let-up yet for British topfruit growers,” said BAP executive chair Ali Capper. “The gap between the costs of growing fruit and the return from supermarkets is just getting bigger and bigger.”

In the past 12 months, the biggest contributor to cost increases for UK apple and pear growers has been labour, which accounts for 40% of all grower costs.

“Back in 2014, a grower thinking about planting a Gala orchard would have checked back over the previous decade and seen labour cost inflation running at 4% per annum,” said Capper. “That would have meant the new orchard would be profitable by year 10 or 12 of its 18-year life.”

This has now changed as labour cost inflation since 2015 has been running at 7% per annum, said Capper.

“Following the same calculation, a new Gala orchard would never reach profitability,” she added. “Growing apples and pears in the UK is just not profitable right now.”

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The organisation has warned that rising costs has meant growers have had to cut back on future investment in new varieties, machinery, cold storage and packhouse infrastructure.

“Some growers are even grubbing orchards and moving out of apple and pear growing altogether,” said Capper. “That is a tragedy.”

BAP has called for long-term sustainable profits and fair retail relationships to protect the industry.

“We are very grateful to those supermarkets that are supporting growers – especially around the start of the British season, and in some cases with cost price increases to help fight inflation,” she said. “We now need all retailers to take pride in championing their British growers to support sustainable profits and reinvestment for future fruit supply.”

According to analysis of Assosia’s Key Value Items tracker (below) by The Grocer, on shelf apple prices in the mults have increased on average by 11% year on year.