Apple varieties and volumes changes predicted by Waitrose technical manager

Numerous changes in the volumes and numbers of apple varieties have been predicted by Waitrose technical manager Alan Wilson, who has also said variety ownership could be a big issue in the context of world production.

Commenting on the key varieties, Wilson told BIFGA's Technical Day that while Cox is a wonderful apple it is difficult to grow "and we have expected too much of it over the past 20 years", it is in decline, so achieving good returns in coming years will be a challenge.

Currently, Cox accounts for an estimated 7.4 per cent by volume of total national apple sales, but by 2015 it is expected to be 6.7 per cent, he added.

"Cox is definitely part of our future. But other competing varieties such as Braeburn give growers the opportunity to extend their season, although it may have reached its peak. Gala is a fantastic apple and English Gala is among the best in the world - it accounts for around 25 per cent of apple sales."

He had high praise for Jazz. Waitrose is selling more and more of it every year "and it's delighting customers, suiting their changing taste". Nevertheless, it is not eating into sales of Pink Lady, a variety that does very well in Waitrose stores.

"Bramley is also a fantastic variety and we sell a lot of it for our size," said Wilson. "We're working hard to sell more Conference."

However, he admitted that sales of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious were declining and that there was a place for English Golden Delicious - something Waitrose has not sold for many years.

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