Fruit growers are more positive about the future of their industry, according to Robert Mitchell, chairman of the National Fruit Show.
Speaking at the two-day event in Kent, he said there was an optimistic mood, perhaps because the reduction in the number of growers was beginning to ease. "I'd like to think we're nearing the bottom of that trend," he said. "And we may even start to see some growth in volume terms."
General optimism was reflected in the increased number of competition entries to the show this year which rose from 82 to 102. Highlights included the award for the tastiest apple which this year went to the Cameo.
But there were still important issues, including the merger of the Apple and Pear Research Council with the Horticultural Development Council and the review of Horticulture Research International, which recommended either closure or transfer of its East Malling site.
HDC chairman Colin Harvey told guests at the show's dinner at Leeds Castle that he was determined the good work of the Apple and Pear Research Council would not be lost when it merged with his council. Overcapacity in the research sector plus the opportunity to reduce costs had prompted the merger, he said.