Tough grocery market could affect the apple selling season, NFU's Ali Capper warns

Apple growers are facing a tough selling season and could end up worse off than last year - despite this season's good harvest.

NFU horticulture board member Ali Capper expresses fears for apple selling season
NFU horticulture board member Ali Capper expresses fears for apple selling season

The warning was given by apple farmer and NFU horticulture board member Ali Capper, who said that the many issues that have hit the newspaper headlines during the past few weeks could affect growers.

These include supermarket price wars and food price deflation.

The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, for example, showed that the grocery market during the 12 weeks ending on 12 October 2014 saw its thirteenth successive fall - with like-for-like prices down by 0.2%.

Capper, of Stocks Farm in Worcestershire, said: "The headlines in the last two weeks have been quite dramatic and it all adds up to what looks like a bumpy road ahead for food producers. It has the potential to be rather depressing, especially for an apple farmer."

She added: "We’ve had a better than average harvest (on quality and quantity measures) and yet the last two year’s harvests were dismal, so we needed a better year and now we face a very tough selling season (October to May). We have the potential to be worse off than last year. If we do there will be a lot of growers seriously reviewing their businesses."

Capper also said that she hoped retailers would keep their promises and respond to their own customer research, which says that "British" is the most important message.

"Consumers are not only becoming more canny with their spending, they are also seeking our smaller brands that they can trust."

"Consumers want to know what the provenance is of the fresh produce they are buying. As an industry we need to ensure that we are giving our retailers every chance to tell our ‘farming family’ story."

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