Top fruit growers have persuaded the European Commission to shelve a change in the rules governing apple sizes, which could have caused chaos on the apple markets.
A new classification due to come in on August 1 would have reduced the minimum size for Class I and Class II larger-fruiting apple varieties, such as Golden Delicious, Braeburn and Gala, from the current 65mm diameter to 60mm.
Other varieties outside this definition and that are naturally smaller would have been able to be marketed at 50mm rather than the current 55mm.
Growers feared the change could have triggered a flood of smaller apples on to European markets, which normally would have been destined for processing or which would not even have been picked. This could have left many growers scrambling to find markets for their produce.
After intense lobbying by growers across Europe, the Commission has agreed that the change will be postponed and reviewed again later, possibly in two years’ time.
Meanwhile, producers have agreed to carry out research into the relationship between size and maturity.
Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears, said that the Commission’s u-turn was “good news for Europe as a whole”.
He said that the current restriction on fruit sizes was effective in stopping immature fruit from being packed. “Today’s highly competitive market is all about quality,” he added.
David Shapley