Sainsbury's product technologist tells growers to brush up on management

A supermarket techno wizard has called on top fruit growers to brush up their husbandry and management skills to seize a bigger share of expanding markets.

Teresa Huxley, a product technologist for Sainsbury's, told a conference last week that opportunities were emerging to grow more pear varieties.

"We must promote excellence of orchards, husbandry and management," she told the Pear Growing for the Future event hosted by East Malling Research.

"We must have respect for the environment by driving efficiency and quality and by reducing costs. We want to work together and are willing to participate and share information. And we need to embrace change and not fear trying something new."

Huxley said 31% of Sainsbury's pear sales were British and Conference pears made up 60% of sales. Opportunities for growth with other varieties such as Blush could be eked out by promoting good practice and management.

A recent TNS and Nationwide survey revealed consumer confidence on the up from a low point last February, but 3/4 of people were still worried about jobs, taxes and the election, she said.

Pre-packed pears were selling well — despite eco worries about extra packaging — because ever-more-thrifty shoppers wanted to know prices before they reached the till.

Sainsbury's sales of pears rose from £143,000 6 years ago to £185,000 now, but volume growth was "more erratic".


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