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Sweeter, smaller British apple harvest of 2023: Weather challenges and rising costs loom

This year, it's expected that the British apple harvest will be a tad smaller, but don't fret, as they're going to be sweeter. The reason for this lies in the scorching heat and droughts that hit us last year.

The high temperatures in 2022 put our apple trees through a tough time, resulting in a bit of an uneven yield. Some trees managed to produce a fair amount of fruit, while others seemed a bit sparse – and this was happening even within the same orchard.

But fear not, a sunny June in 2023 gave this year's fruit a proper dose of sunshine, leading to them accumulating natural sugars in abundance. This means their taste and flavour have reached their peak potential.

Ali Capper, at British Apple & Pears, acknowledged the hurdles posed by last year's heatwave and this year's cooler spring. Nevertheless, she's quite upbeat about the quality of the 2023 harvest, although she's not banking on it being a record-breaking one.

Capper made a point of underlining the delightful eating experience we can expect from the new-season apples. She made it clear that the superb flavour that British apples are known for is still very much intact.

Apart from battling the elements, the industry is grappling with rising costs. With a smaller harvest predicted for 2023, the cost per kilo of production is set to rise. Data from Andersons, released earlier this year, showed that producing a kilo of British Gala apples costs around £1.26. This prompted a call for better prices to be paid to the hardworking growers.

The industry's also feeling the pinch from higher energy prices, which haven't budged from their elevated state over the past 18 months. Many growers find themselves stuck in pricey contracts without any extra help from the government.

All these pressures are pushing the top fruit industry into a corner. Orchards growing Cox and Bramley apples, in particular, are taking a hit.

Capper raised a flag of concern about this trend, stressing the importance of supermarkets paying growers fairly. This, she believes, is crucial for securing the industry's future sustainability.


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