"English apricot industry is on its way", says Kent grower

Tesco has announced a nearly sevenfold increase in the volume of English-grown apricots it will sell this summer, due to investment in development and "near-perfect" growing conditions.

Nigel Bardsley - image: Tesco
Nigel Bardsley - image: Tesco

The first English apricots of the season went on sale this week, and initial estimates are that English growers will produce approximately 200 tonnes – up from 30 tonnes last year, and enough to supply Tesco for the whole of the summer.

Tesco stone fruit buyer Henry Maulik said: "Thanks to the great weather, the quality of English apricots this summer is very good - juicy and rich but firm with a nice blush.

He added: "We believe that one day they could even be as renowned as British strawberries, cherries, apples and pears."

The retailer started working with Kent stone-fruit grower Nigel Bardsley five years ago on a project to develop commercial-scale apricot production, working with breeders and agronomists on a production plan for eight hectares of orange-fleshed, French-type apricots.

Bardsley said: "We've had near-perfect growing conditions so far this year with a cold winter to help let the trees rest, a mild spring to allow for good pollination, and a warm, dry summer so far to boost growth.

"This combined with a unique large day/night temperature differentiation, has led to fantastic red blushed and incredibly sweet apricots."

His farm's production has risen from around 15 tonnes during its first commercial harvest last year, to up to 120 tonnes this season. "The English apricot industry is well and truly on its way," he added.

Last year has seen a 33 per cent rise in apricot sales over the previous year, according to data from retail analyst Kantar.


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