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Source: British Apples & Pears Limited

Data from the growers association has revealed that Aldi topped the chart followed by Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Lidl in February

Aldi bought more British apples from UK growers than any other UK retailer last month, according to new data from British Apples & Pears.

Data from the growers association revealed it bought 22.1% of all British apples growers sold to UK supermarkets in February, surpassing Tesco (with a share of 20.8% of all UK apples sold), Sainsbury’s (14.7%) and Lidl (12.8%).

The discounter sold a total of 3,779 tonnes of British apples in February, while Tesco sold 3,553, Sainsbury’s 2,517 and Lidl 2,191.

According to British Apples & Pears, February marked the first time this season that Aldi had hit the top of the sales table. Tesco had previously been in the top spot since October 2022.

In addition, four-year aggregate data published by the trade body revealed that Asda continued to be the “least supportive retailer of British apples”. It has a grocery market share of 14.3% and sold 6.3% of British apples.

Tesco, which has a grocery market share of 27.3%, sold the most UK-grown apples over the four-year period, with 20.8% of the market. Sainsbury’s sold the second-highest amount, selling 14.7% of all British apples. Its grocery market share is 15.2%.

“We know consumers want British if at all possible and with such great quality fruit available from British growers, we hope to see even more support from UK supermarkets,” said Ali Capper, executive chair of BAP.

Earlier this week, the organisation also announced a new research and development group to enable growers to meet challenges of the future, after the withdrawal of AHDB from horticulture crop research in 2022.

The BAPL R&D Group is chaired by Rob Saunders and its members include topfruit growers and agronomists.

The group has agreed a focus on projects that addresses issues that are likely to become more challenging for growers, such as crop protection challenges including woolly aphid, hard-bodied insect and codling moth.

The first call for research proposals went out in early 2023, and the BAPL R&D Group received shortlisted presentations on 8 March.

BAPL R&D work will be funded by a voluntary subscription collected at point of sale. The proceeds from this subscription also contribute to the EAMU (Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use) programme for plant protection proucts that is now run by the newly established Horticultural Crop Protection Ltd – which has replaced elements of the now-defunct AHDB Horticulture (and retained about £1m in funding).

“The demise of AHDB research is both a threat and an opportunity for the topfruit industry,” said Saunders.

“The threat was that without AHDB research the sector would have no mechanism to tackle the pest and disease challenges brought about by regulatory change, climate instability and the arrival of new pests, along with the challenge of our journey to net zero.

“The opportunity was to create a highly focused, grower-led team to identify priorities, invite research tenders, and commission research that has a strong chance of making a difference for topfruit growers.”