Pink Lady bosses are playing down fears that the product could be heading towards the commodity route.
The southern hemisphere season is underway and volumes are already looking excellent.
Andy MacDonald, UK rep for Pink Lady, said quantities from South Africa particularly were looking good and supply was likely to be up 30% on last year.
South African growers said they would export 600,000-800,000 cartons this season.
This has led to some industry sources speculating that the increasing production could damage the premium nature of the Pink Lady brand, pushing it down the commodity route.
One source said: “There’s going to be increased pressure on Pink Lady, they’ve got a lot of volume building up and it remains to be seen if the marketers can shift it.”
However, MacDonald remained confident the apple would retain its premium price position. “The apple is not just something you can grow anywhere, the conditions have to be right. I don’t think we’ll have a similar situation to the one we have with Granny Smith or Braeburn.”
He added that the bulk of the planting had been completed and the increasing availability was down to maturing trees and improved yields. “I am not sure what the volume will be, but it will certainly level out,” MacDonald said.
The takeover of Safeway by Morrisons could have ramifications, as Morrisons prefers to stock the unbranded Cripps Pink. However, MacDonald said Pink Lady would focus on growing sales to other retailers to compensate.
Ed Bedington