Source: The Co-op

Following the extreme weather and drought conditions in much of the UK, many farmers are facing a smaller crop this year, according to the retailer

The Co-op is increasing the availability of mini apples in a bid to support growers that have seen weather-affected yields this year.

Many of the retailer’s growers had harvested smaller than usual fruit due to the hot weather and lack of rain seen across the UK over the summer months, said the retailer, which is increasing the sale of mini apples to almost 1,300 stores – a volume rise of 120% on last year.

Co-op said its move would help to “reduce waste and support farmers” by utilising more of their yield, which had “not sized up due to the extreme weather”, but also had the additional benefit of being “a delicious fruit that is perfect for children’s packed lunches”.

As additional support, the Co-op has also extended its use of British apples by working with growers to switch between varieties to extend the season to a full 52 weeks per year.

“Co-op continually works closely with its farmers and growers to ensure that great-tasting fresh produce does not go to waste – supporting our suppliers throughout the seasons is what we do,” said Sinead Bell, Co-op director of trade for fresh, chilled and bakery.

“Unfortunately, shoppers can all too often be put off by fresh produce that is a different size, colour or shape than they are used to, but our farmers are facing challenges, and we all must work together to ensure that delicious great-tasting seasonal fresh produce ends up on our tables where it belongs.”

Another impact of the dry weather over the summer meant the UK apple season – which officially started this week – was seven days earlier than normal, said grower body British Apples & Pears.

And while BAP had warned earlier this summer that growers were fearing yields could be badly affected by the hot weather and drought declarations in August, that factor ultimately delivered “a particularly flavoursome” crop.

As a result, British growers were predicting their 2022 season apples would be “ideal for storage”, meaning the potential for a full year-round supply of British apples for UK shoppers. This meant the industry was also well on the way to meeting its target of 60% of all apples sold in the UK being British by 2030, BAP said.

It comes as the trade body has this week launched a new marketing campaign using the tagline #ValueAtTheCore to highlight the affordability, storability and low food miles of apples during the cost of living crisis.

“With the cost of living rising significantly, British apples offer one of the best value, healthy snacks on the market,” said Ali Capper, executive chair of BAP.

“British apples also travel minimal food miles to reach our supermarket shelves, meaning they provide the optimal, environmental choice too – kind to our wallets, the environment and our overall health – everyone needs an apple a day.”

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