Apple and pear sales enjoy revival

Growers urged to embrace the potential for well performing apple and pear varieties.

The apple and pear industry looks set for a positive 2007 at the start of a sector “revival”, according to a leading industry figure. But growers must embrace the potential for well-performing varieties, says trade association English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow. He said figures coming in from last season showed the sector was “experiencing a revival” but growers must continue to ensure they get a fair price for their produce. “I’m very concerned at the moment that retail prices are too low and as a result we will see products diverted from the fresh to the processed market, leaving us with a shortage of apples like Bramleys for the fresh market,” he said. He added that the popularity of Magners cider was seeing growers lured by higher prices for processing than retailers were offering for fresh — so retailers would have to look again at prices they offer. Following on from a difficult 2005-06, when imports from the southern hemisphere flooded the European market, 2006-07 has proved to be “much stronger”. Fewer imports and other factors saw growers have a far better year. Barlow said: “I believe there’s a revival for the first time in many years. We have bottomed out and now we have started to go up.” He suggested that a great potential for the future was Gala apples. A total of 22,000 tonnes were produced last year — a drop since the year before — and there is room for much more. “There’s great potential for a lot more Gala,” he said. “We had to stretch what we had with imports. English growers need to grab that potential with high-yielding, high-quality apples.” Discovery apples sold swiftly in the past year and retail prices went up 40 per cent on the previous year.

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