Inflation is biggest worry for British apple growers

On 12th May British Apple and Pears Ltd. held a webinar for retailers and trade to discuss the 2022 season. This year the British apple season will be officially launched on 3rd October.

Ali Capper, British Apple and Pears (BAPL), Executive Chair spoke about how the top fruit industry has always been a balancing act between risk and reward and how now the scales were tipping the wrong way.

She said that growers were usually most concerned about the weather but now the biggest worry was inflation, which is out of control. Labour, energy and logistics have seen a treble digit increase.

Costs have always been on the increase but productivity gains and stables prices have ensured growers returns, but that is now changing. Ali said that there is the opportunity for the UK to be more self-sufficient but there were also many challenges.

Sharp increase in labour cost

This year the government introduced a new wage rate of £10.10 for seasonal workers which is an increase of 13.4% and combined with the new rate of National Insurance contributions totals a 15% increase on wage bills. The cost of labour in the UK has trebled in the last decade increasing from £7.57 in 2013 to £12.32 in 2022 (with NI contributions). Labour now contributes 20-25% to the cost of production.

Last year a bag of apples cost around 85p, if this increase was to be added it would now cost £1. According to Ali growers have no choice but to increase prices.

What can growers do?

It was widely agreed that growers have to work together, look at the cost line and ensure costs were absorbed by the supply chain to ensure future investment in the industry.

In the top fruit sector there has to be long term investment as it takes around 8 years from ordering the tree until a grower sees full production volumes.

Market share

The change in market share at the various retailers has been up and down over the last few years.

ASDA, Coop and Tesco have the most significant drop while again Lidl comes out top with a sharp increase last season. Aldi also showed an increase.

2022/3 season launch

In this year’s season launch British apples will be promoted as value for money, with excellent fridge storage reducing food waste and low food miles.

'Value at the Core' will be the consumer facing hash tag with Health, Sustainability and Affordability as the main messages.

Chef Raymond Blanc will be the season launch ambassador.

Source: Fresh Plaza