Sector called to stone fruit sale summit

Meeting set up to draw industry together in drive for better results for plum and cherry markets.

A meeting has been called next week to try to prevent a repeat of the problems that beset the English stone fruit sector last season.

Growers, retailers and marketers are invited to the meeting on 24 January at the East Malling Research conference centre in Kent, to develop a marketing action plan ahead of the 2012 English plum and cherry season.

English Apples & Pears has co-organised the event with the NFU. According to the promoter's chief executive Adrian Barlow: "We need to get better results for English stone fruit growers in 2012.

"Last season, some growers had good sales and returns, but many others were not happy with returns or found they couldn't sell their crop. This is ludicrous at a time when there is such demand for local produce."

Barlow explained that his organisation was happy to perform a similar role for the stone fruit sector as it does for apples and pears, but would wait to be asked.

"The industry has been very fragmented, which has infuriated the multiples," he said. "We would be delighted to help draw it together, but we can't do it unless we have the support of everyone.

"Without such an move, we won't have the full sales figures that are essential for creating forecasting accurately and spotting the strengths and weaknesses in supply."

An NFU representative commented: "We are keen to see measures put in place that will prevent a repeat of events in 2011, and we look forward to a constructive session."

Stock Advances

English cherries have a "terrific" reputation for taste and the cherry hectarage is increasing quite considerably, according to English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow.

"New dwarf rooting stocks give you trees that are small enough to be protected from rain, which causes splitting, as well as from frost and from birds. That removes some of the vagaries of production," he pointed out.

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