Apple industry welcomes pledge from new minister

Newly appointed Defra secretary of state Liz Truss's support for the British apple industry, given in a page 3 lead piece in The Times last week, has been welcomed by the industry.

Truss: support for British apples - image: © Department for Education
Truss: support for British apples - image: © Department for Education

In the article she pledged: "I will not rest until the British apple is back at the top of the tree." Addressing the reasons for the industry's decline in the face of imports, she said apples "are a symbol of a wider failure to take pride in and cultivate our own food", but described the modern farming and food industries as "hotbeds of innovation demanding high-level technical skills".

English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow told Grower: "It's great that she's keen to see the industry grow and take a greater share of the market. That is already rising - we will be up to 38 per cent or more this season."

Having spoken to Defra officials about following up the minister's pledge, Barlow added: "I want to get her onto a farm to show her the dramatic renaissance and increase in productivity we have achieved. We have had good relationships with recent ministers and we are extremely keen to see that continue in future."

An ITV News at Ten report following on from the Truss newspaper article the same day featured Barlow at the official launch of the UK apple season at an event in central London that evening.

Addressing around 100 industry figures at the event, he explained that this year "will still be a struggle for growers". But he added that he hopes this year's much improved harvest - up 20 per cent on last year - will help prices rise next year.


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