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Aldi tops first quarter new season British apple sales, and Tesco rallies

October to December 2023 marked the first quarter of the new season British apple sales and the latest data from British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) reveals which supermarkets were best at backing British.

Having typically been in the top two of supermarkets for British apple sales in previous years, Tesco’s relatively low British apple volumes in October 2023 (1,826 tonnes) meant it struggled to catch its competitors in the first quarter.

Tesco did top the chart for British apple sales in November (3,104 tonnes) and December 2023 (3,582 tonnes), but that wasn’t enough to beat Aldi’s consistently high performance over the first quarter of the new season.

BAPL growers sold 9,096 tonnes of British apples to Aldi in the first quarter of the 2023/4 season. That meant the discounter sold 20% of all UK apples bought from BAPL growers in that period – significantly outperforming its grocery market share of 9.3%.

Tesco only bought 18% (8,412 tonnes) of all British apples supplied by BAPL growers in the first quarter of the new season, underperforming against their grocery market share of 27.6%.

Like its fellow discounter, Lidl also outperformed compared to its grocery market share, buying 17% (7,726 tonnes) of all British apples sold by BAPL growers compared to its 7.7% grocery market share.

Sainsbury’s also performed well, buying 17% (7,863 tonnes) of all British apples sold by BAPL growers compared to its 15.8% grocery market share.

In addition to Tesco falling short of its supermarket share, Asda was the other disappointment. Asda bought just 5% (2,210 tonnes) of all British apples sold by BAPL growers compared to its market share of 13.6%.

Executive chair of BAPL, Ali Capper, commented: “The start of the new British apple season is a crucial time for our growers. We know shoppers are very keen to get their hands on the delicious new season fruit and we’ve had some great support from many of the supermarkets this year.

“Despite a good performance in November and December, Tesco’s slow start to the season meant they were unable to catch their competitors in our British apple sales league table for the first quarter of the new season. However, once again Aldi and Lidl significantly outperformed against their grocery market share and really got behind British top fruit. Sainsbury’s too managed to outperform its market share, which was great news. We hope that all the supermarkets will get behind British for the remainder of the year.

“In terms of volume, our growers tell us that the 2023/24 British apple season will be average and a bit below the bumper year we had in 2022/23. We also know that individual fruit size this year is on average slightly larger. That’s why we’re delighted that Aldi and Sainsbury’s have both agreed to introduce a four-pack of British apples. This will help the picked British apple crop last that bit longer into the rest of the year, giving shoppers the access to home-grown apples for as long as possible. It’s an approach that we hope other UK supermarkets will soon follow.

BAPL publishes monthly sales data on our website: https://www.britishapplesandpears.co.uk/supermarket-sales-data/

The following table provides an aggregated summary of the first quarter (specifically 25th September 2023 to 31st December 2023) of the 2023/24 British apple season.

Notes:

  • Data collated from BAPL growers in January 2024
  • Grocery market share data from Kantar (24 December 2023)
  • ‘Others’ total grocery market share includes Ocado, Other Outlets, Symbols and Independent
  • Grocery market share data not available for M&S
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Press Release

BAPL provides strong evidence and clear call for action to EFRA Committee

On Tuesday 9th January 2024, executive chair of BAPL, Ali Capper gave evidence to the EFRA (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Committee on Fairness in the Food Supply Chain.

Watch the EFRA Select Committee recording

Ali reminded the committee that over the last two years, growers have faced a 30% increase in the cost of production. At the same time, returns to farmers have averaged just 8%.

Fundamentally, there’s a big gap between the increases in costs facing growers and what they are receiving back from supermarkets.

Negotiating with supermarkets

Ali provided insights into the annual contract negotiations between top fruit growers and the major supermarkets. She explained it’s very difficult to go back into a retailer to negotiate for increases once a contract has been signed, yet top fruit growing faces short-term cost challenges and long-term investment decisions.

“Ordering apple and pear trees this year, they will arrive in two years, and they’ll be in full production in six years.” Ali Capper explained. “Given the current economic situation and the nature of supermarket contracts, you need a crystal ball to operate effectively in that kind of time frame.

“With supermarkets, you’re talking about an annual negotiation. Almost all supermarkets will want a fixed price for the season – the whole 12 months. Most of the retailers used to come to us in June or July, when we knew what we had on the trees and there would be a negotiation.

“Now, half of the retailers are trying to negotiate in February, when we’ve got no idea what we’ve got. And the other half are pushing the negotiations into August or September. In the case of the start of season 2023, one retailer even pushed negotiations into the middle of October.  Most of the crop is harvested and in store by then.

“Can you imagine the emotional stress to the farmer who has harvested his crop and still hasn’t got a price agreed? You can see where the balance of power sits and it isn’t with the grower.”

Changing the cheap food policy

Ali clearly explained to the Committee: “We have a cheap food policy in this country and that policy is driving out British food producers. We have to start championing what we produce at home and accepting that it might not be the cheapest.

“We have to get real. We need to look at the climate change maps. The UK is in a good place to grow food going forward. Why are we not investing in that? Let’s aim to grow food production in the UK by 30%.”

Six recommendations for EFRA Select Committee

On behalf of BAPL, Ali Capper put six clear recommendations in front of the EFRA Select Committee:

  1. To immediately write to the CEO of every major retailer to call for recognition of farm input inflation and fair pricing. In addition, the committee should demand long-term multi-year contracts between retailers and growers that enable farmers to make a profit and reinvest in their orchards and pack houses.
  2. To impose the fair dealing clause from the Agricultural Act. The contract obligations around pricing mechanisms are particularly important. BAPL offered to help the government with a framework for each crop sector to ensure that the fair dealing clause works.
  3. To remove the cap on seasonal workers and to make the Seasonal Workers Scheme a 5-year scheme.
  4. To include commercial horticulture in the ETII (Energy and Trade Intensive Industries) scheme now to protect growers from future potential hikes in energy prices.
  5. To ensure that future carbon border adjustments are developed to include food. This would mean that British growers are not competing with cheap imports with a much higher carbon and water footprint, while being targeted to reduce their footprints here.
  6. To ensure that ELMs (Environmental Land Management) work with food production, not instead of it. For example, recognising the value to the environment of orchards and steps like planting wildflowers between rows of fruit trees.

You can hear more from Ali Capper at the EFRA Committee via this recording.

 

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Four simple steps to ensure you can buy British apples

We know you want to buy British apples and pears. Empower yourself to find delicious British apples and pears with these simple steps!

  1. Look for the Union Jack
    Start by keeping an eye out for the iconic Union Jack on packaging and signage. Some supermarkets even feature it on their point-of-sale displays (POS). It’s the easiest and quickest way to spot our tasty home-grown apples and pears and ensure you always buy British.
  2. Check the White Box
    Take a closer look at the white information box on the packet. This important section provides key details about the apple or pear variety and the origins of the fruit inside. Even if you don’t see Union Jack packaging, this clear section on each packet will let you know you’re holding Great British fruits.
  3. Ask the Fresh Produce Manager
    Still having trouble finding our delicious British apples and pears? No worries! Head over to the fresh produce section and ask for the manager. They’re there to help you, and they might have some insider knowledge to help you locate those British apples and pears.
  4. Keep Asking
    Persistence pays off! If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for from the section managers, ask the store manager. They will want to provide what’s important to their customers. Sometimes a recent delivery may have sold out, but they’ll likely restock soon. Keep checking, and you’ll be enjoying British apples and pears in no time!

By following these steps, you not only get to enjoy the best of British produce but also send a strong message to your supermarket about supporting local growers.

Let’s make a difference together!

#BritishApples #SupportLocal #ChooseBritish