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British Apples and Pears Limited announces new research project

BRITISH APPLE LIFE CYCLE CARBON ASSESSMENT

British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL), the UK top fruit grower association, has announced an expansion of its existing Farming Innovation Pathways feasibility project to analyse the impact of British apples on the environment. The project is called: Supporting top fruits journey to Net Zero.

BAPL has secured funding from Innovate UK to evaluate the apple supply chain and its implications for the environment. Cranfield University will be assessing the life cycle of British Gala apples, accounting for impacts occurring on farm, and during storage as well as transportation to customer distribution centres. Additional subcontractors in this exciting second phase include Combind Industries, experts in pyrolysis and biochar production, and Carbogenics, who will explore the cutting edge-research. These new project partners will work beside CHAP, Hutchinsons, Adrian Scripps and the University of Edinburgh.

The research project began in June 2022. Results are expected in 12 to 24 months and will be presented via an industry-facing report at project completion.

“This project is extremely important for the top fruit industry,” explained Ali Capper, BAPL executive chair. “Supermarkets and consumers are rightly concerned about carbon emissions. Being able to quantify the carbon footprint of British apples will, we hope, give people another great reason to support the category.

“Despite the extremely challenging market conditions our growers face, we are dedicated to investment in the long-term future of British apple and pear orchards. That’s why we’re so pleased to have been able to start this important research project.”

Visit the BAPL Research & Development web page for more on our R&D activities. 


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TRADE RELEASE: Sunniest June for 66 years brings great tasting new season British apples

Issued 7th August 2023:

Monday 2nd October 2023 will mark the start of the new British apple season and UK growers say that while it may not be a bumper crop, the taste and flavour of the new season fruit is excellent.

The sunniest June since 1957[1] ensured young apples got the sunshine hours they needed to develop the full potential of their taste and flavour. In particular, the sunshine helped to build up the delicious natural sugars in the new season crop.

However, British apple volumes are not expected to match the bumper crop of last year. The extreme heat and drought in 2022 stressed the trees, which has resulted in an inconsistent crop. With some apple trees producing a good number of fruit and others looking a little more sparce – even in the same orchard.   

“Last year’s heat and the cooler spring this year have been challenging for UK growers,” said Ali Capper, executive chair of British Apple & Pears Limited (BAPL). “Despite that, we’re predicting a very good, but not a bumper crop in 2023. Growers are especially delighted about the expected eating experience of the new season apples. The excellent flavour profile of British apples is certainly being maintained.”

This year’s weather challenges for UK growers have come on top of continued cost pressures for the industry. “Growing and storage costs are still inflating year-on-year,” explained Ali Capper. “With a smaller predicted crop in 2023, this means the cost of production per kilo will increase this year.”

Earlier this year, BAPL released results of analysis, conducted by farm business consultants Andersons, that put the median cost of producing a kilo of British Gala apples at £1.26[2].

“Unfortunately, growers are yet to see cost pressures ease,” added Ali Capper. “Energy prices are still much higher than they were 18 months ago, and growers are locked into energy contracts. Apple and pear businesses are not getting the support on energy prices from government that many other business sectors are receiving.

“The cost pressures on growers are already causing contraction in the top fruit industry,” continued Ali Capper. “Our members are reporting that Cox and Bramley orchards in particular are being grubbed. This is very concerning. We need supermarkets to pay a fair return to our growers to ensure the future sustainability of the industry.”    

Despite the challenges, BAPL members are working closely with retailers to create in-store theatre celebrating the best of British top fruit. BAPL has also designated October as British Apple Month and will be investing more this year than last year in social media advertising to raise awareness of apples as the ‘hidden superfood’.

“The health benefits of apples are sometimes overlooked. But recent comments by Michael Mosely – advocating an apple a day – and new scientific research about the benefits of quercetin have elevated the humble fruit to something of a superfood,” said Ali Capper.

“We know the British public is hugely supportive of the British apple industry. This year, there are more reasons than ever to munch on a British apple a day. Not just a treat for your taste buds but your gut, heart, brain and body too!”

[1] https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2023/fingerprints-of-climate-change-on-june-temperature-records

[2] https://www.britishapplesandpears.co.uk/cost-of-production/


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BAPL EFRA inquiry response

At the end of July 2023, British Apples & Pears Limited submitted a response to the EFRA Committee inquiry on fairness in the food supply chain.

Read the BAPL written evidence.

This eight-page BAPL response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s inquiry sets out BAPL members’ experiences of the food supply chain and includes clear proposals for improving the health and sustainability of the sector.

Visit the EFRA Committee website for more details on this inquiry.