High-grade apples cause juice supply switch to orchards

This season's supplies of juicing apples from packhouses are well down on last year's, with higher volumes coming direct from orchards that were picked over for quality two or three times.

"We're seeing less juicing fruit coming off the end of graders," said Kent fruit merchant Graham Hill. "If you get a 90 per cent class 1 gradeout (because only the best fruit is going into store), only 10 per cent will be suitable for juicing. But if there's 70 per cent class 1, 30 per cent will go for juice."

Instead of the majority of fruit selected in the orchard for juicing being sold at or just after harvest, a higher proportion has been stored - so there was no oversupply and prices were not depressed as a result, he explained. This was possible because although the fruit was sub class 2, it was reasonably sound and therefore storable, he added.

Prices have remained firm, with the typical spot price around £100 per tonne. But when the stored juicing fruit is marketed, Hill expects the price to be much higher, partly because the cost of storage is £40-£50/tonne.

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