Shoppers can now buy British-grown Royal Gala apples during the summer for the first time, after a multimillion-pound investment in cold storage technology by Kent-based grower AC Goatham & Son.
Goatham, which has also planted more than 1.8 million new fruit trees in recent years, has launched the new variety into Sainsbury’s, and will be available under the retailer’s own label during June, July and August.
The product was also available to other retailers and wholesalers under the AC Goatham brand, said the grower’s commercial director Carol Ford, and represented the culmination of a seven year partnership with Sainsbury’s to extend the British season to almost 12 months a year.
The launch also meant British Royal Galas would now be able compete directly with Southern Hemisphere-grown variants of the apple, which are lighter in colour and imported from South Africa, South America and New Zealand.
“We are throwing this offer open to any UK retailers, wholesalers and cash and carry businesses who would like to stock British grown Royal Gala in June, July and August this year - filling the gap which is normally made up from the Southern Hemisphere,” said Ford.
“This will significantly reduce food miles, be a great talking point and a way of engaging with customers, but importantly will also give them the opportunity to buy and eat quality British grown apples which taste as good as the day they were picked.”
Ford added the new product was also a “massive step” to ensuring the UK could sustainably produce and store its own fresh fruit in the future.
“We strongly believe it is important for the UK to be able to grow as much of its own food as possible. History has taught us that this is important. The British apple industry took quite a bashing in the 1990’s when new varieties from other parts of the world flooded the UK market. The decade began with around 1,400 British growers and ended with just 500.”