National Fruit Show - Organisers upbeat despite loss of sponsors

The loss of its two supermarket sponsors could leave the National Fruit Show (NFS) organisers, the Marden Fruit Show Society, "somewhat exposed financially".

The society's chairman Jeremy Scott made the statement at the NFS's annual general meeting at East Malling Research in Kent on 24 March.

Sainsbury's has decided to pull out, Scott said. And the same went for Tesco, a major show sponsor for over 10 years and a regular trade exhibitor.

"The (financial) impact of these losses has been unfortunate but it has opened doors to other companies that wish to support the fruit industry or raise their level of support within it," added Scott, who announced that he will be standing down at the next AGM.

He thanked the two supermarkets for their support, which had helped the show to develop and maintain its place at the forefront of the British fruit industry.

Existing sponsors - BASF, Norman Collett and Hadlow College - continue to support the event.

Scott said that innovations for the 2009 show include the introduction of Cameo classes in the two long-term, farm-stored competitions and the replacement of any other culinary apple class by one for the new dessert variety Kanzi.

This year's show will be held at the Kent County Showground on 21-22 October. The fruit exhibits will be restaged on 25 October at London's Borough Market as part of its celebration of Bramley's 200th anniversary.

Treasurer Barry Bird reported that although the 2008 show's trade-stand income had increased by two per cent to over £60,000, its overall surplus had dropped from £25,188 in 2007 to £5,248.

"I'm still quite enthusiastic about this year's prospects and see no reason why we cannot produce another surplus," he said.

"We're keeping trade-stand rents unchanged but in the medium to long term a new sponsor will be needed to replace Tesco."

Scott and vice-chairman Robert Oliver were re-elected and Sarah Calcutt was elected as junior vice-chairman, a new post.

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