Well Pict and Asda launch apple plan

Top-fruit growers are set to benefit from plans by Well Pict County Local and Asda to supply local dessert apples in the South West.

The Kent and South East-based top- and soft-fruit grower group, along with Asda and its food sourcer International Produce (IP), hopes to meet the booming demand for local produce.

Traditionally, the area is known for producing cider apples, but in recent years some growers have grubbed their land for other uses.

Details of how the plan could be carried out, such as the varieties and volumes required by the region, were discussed at the end of last year at a meeting hosted by the NFU at the Exeter Golf Club, Devon.

Well Pict director Aurel Voiculescu said: "I hope this initiative helps to revitalise a once-vibrant region of top-fruit production. It is interesting how crops go back to regions in a 20-year cycle. It seems that we take for granted availability of UK produce, but without adequate planning and marketing promotions, viable crops go out of production. We need to make sure we have a robust plan to grow the most modern varieties in a sustainable way."

In the meeting it was established that producing the food could open many doors for growers and speciality food producers, as the apples would need a packhouse that would be capable of meeting Asda/IP's storing and packing requirements, which could then be used as a hub for local food distribution.

NFU chairman of the horticulture sector in the South West Graham Nichols, who chaired the meeting, said: "I enjoyed chairing a meeting of committed British farmers who were prepared to look at the challenge of diversification into growing dessert apples. It would involve a long-term business plan for the grower and this partnership must be reciprocated on all sides."

Category manager for IP/Asda Jon Morgan said: "We are keen to offer sustainable, long-term programmed business to growers who have the right varieties and mentality to deal and grow with Asda."

Interested growers should contact the Well Pict County Local office on 01622 845 955 or email info@wellpictcountylocal.com.

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