Apple and pear sales up 14.3%

The apples and pears market has started the year on a high thanks to bumper sales in the period leading up to Christmas.

Sales from the start of last year's growing season until 22 December were, on average, 14.3 per cent up on the previous year.

Among the top-selling varieties were: Cox, whose sales were up 9.6 per cent compared with 2006; Gala, which saw an 18.2 per cent increase; Bramley, which saw a 14.5 per cent increase; and Conference pears, up 17.4 per cent.

English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow said of the figures: "It's a good way to start 2008 and hopefully a prelude to a very good January.

"What was really impressive were the sales of Bramley. They were done without a great deal of promotional activity because in December a lot of shelf space is devoted to seasonal stock. So this has been an indication that people are cooking with Bramley more than (they were previously)."

He added that, as there has been a lot of emphasis on selling the produce early this season, suppliers could expect to run out of some varieties as early as January.

He said: "Multiples can expect us to be out of Cox before the end of March, out of Gala by the end of January, and out of Conference pears by the middle of February."

Shortages of Bramley apples are expected at the end of June and July, he added.

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