Lower crop will dampen Bramley revival

Forecasts for Bramley apple season down by at least 20 per cent for the whole of the UK due to smaller fruit and grubbing.

Brammy Awards: winners presented with prizes by Adrian Barlow
Brammy Awards: winners presented with prizes by Adrian Barlow

A "stunning" revival in British-grown Bramley apples is likely to be checked by a significantly lower crop in the season ahead, head of the industry-backed Bramley Campaign Adrian Barlow said at its Brammy Awards lunch in London last week.

"Demand from processors will exceed supply," he said. Forecasts for the season are down at least 20 per cent UK-wide due to smaller fruit and grubbing, while the Northern Irish crop will suffer a drop of 25-30 per cent due to early-season frost damage.

"There are a number of potentially damaging consequences - manufacturers could move out of Bramley products or drop 'Bramleys' from their packaging - though not on the same scale as three years ago," said Barlow. "There will be no shortage of fresh fruit until next summer, when there may be a month of relative shortage."

This comes against the backdrop of "a remarkable revival in demand" over the past 12 months, with volumes of fresh sales up a "stunning" 19 per cent, he said. But the processing market "hasn't recovered to the same extent".

On the Bramley Campaign itself, he said: "We are building on social media and our first foray onto YouTube got around 12,000 hits in its first week. We want to get the message across that Bramleys are a versatile everyday ingredient - not just for crumbles, pies and sauces."

Presenting the Best Bramley Retailer award to Waitrose representatives, Barlow said the supermarket "has promoted Bramleys in-store and in its publications, and has continued to grow its market share, which is double its overall grocery market share". TV cook Mary Berry "has been a life-long advocate of Bramleys and is a worthy winner" of the Best Bramley Media Chef award, he added.

Collecting Sainsbury's award for Best Manufacturer of a Sweet Bramley Product, Phil Acock, chairman and managing director of Fourayes, a large grower of Bramleys for processing, said: "I prefer to see balanced supply and demand. Over-supply is a disaster but the season will be quite tight. In processing we still suffer from the very short crop of two-to-three years ago - the market hasn't returned to normal. But the coming season is more promising."

Barlow also described last month's granting of EU Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) status for Bramley apple pie filling as "great news", adding that it "gives the stamp of authority on Bramley products".

Looking ahead

On dessert fruit, Barlow said: "Forecasts are up 10 per cent and there is no carry-over of European or southern hemisphere fruit so we start with a clean slate. Similarly on juicing, there was massive oversupply last year but not this."

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