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Press Release

British apple and pear supermarket performance, six months into the 2023 season

New six month sales data from BAPL

Six months since the start of the British apple and pear season (starting October 2023), British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) has analysed which supermarkets have surpassed last year’s performance and which are lagging behind.

Of the 10 supermarkets analysed, seven managed to increase the volume of British apples and pears bought from BAPL growers compared to the same period in 2022/23. The top performers were Sainsbury’s which bought 2,737 more tonnes of British apples and pears and Lidl which bought 2,597 more tonnes than the previous year.

VIEW THE DATA CHARTS

Tesco has fallen just slightly behind its 2022/23 performance – selling 714 tonnes fewer British apples and pears in the first six months of the season. However, it was hampered by a slow start in October and is now catching up with the other top performers.

Unfortunately, not all supermarkets have improved in terms of supporting British apples and pears and buying more this season compared to last. The biggest underperformer was Morrisons, selling 2,613 fewer tonnes between October and March 2023/24 compared to the same period in 2022/23.

“Things are getting very tight at the top of the league table this year.” Explained executive chair of BAPL, Ali Capper. “Aldi is currently beating Tesco, but only by 333 tonnes. Sainsbury’s and Lidl are both closing the gap on the top two. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the rest of the year turns out.

“We’re delighted that most supermarkets are buying more British apples and pears than they were this time last year. We know that’s what consumers want, and we welcome the recent moves by some supermarkets to make it easier for online shoppers to choose British. That’s another great step towards making buying British as easy as possible.”  

Every month, BAPL publishes supermarket sales data on its website to shine a light on which supermarkets are putting their buying power behind British. The monthly data tables can be viewed at the links below:

 https://www.britishapplesandpears.co.uk/supermarket-sales-data/

https://www.britishapplesandpears.co.uk/supermarket-sales-data-pears/

 

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Uncategorized Press Release Research

The trees are talking!

How new ‘listening’ technologies could help British growers produce even better apples

AI technologies could be coming to an orchard near you. Things are high tech now in some UK apple and pear orchards. The latest ideas involve ‘listening’ to the trees to find out exactly when they are starting to feel thirsty. 

British apple supplier and BAPL member, Adrian Scripps, has joined a trial to evaluate a new ‘listening’ technology. The sensors on the trees detect biosignals that give growers an early alert to potential stresses – like needing a drink!

The sensors are small, with two wires that go into the tree, usually into a branch. They detect micro-electric biosignals inside the tree and trigger irrigation the moment the tree needs it. The grower no longer has to guess, or wait for the tree to show signs of ‘thirst’ – such as leaves dropping or going yellow. 

The fact is that by the time the tree is showing visible signs of stress, the damage may have been done. So it’s better to be able to provide some water before that happens. 

We’re also very mindful of the need to conserve water as much as we can. And this technology can help growers do just that. While we might have the perfect maritime climate for growing delicious apples in the UK, rain is not always in plentiful supply. Water sustainability is very important. 

Ultimately this technology can also help growers conserve water and be more sustainable. Without this insight, growers might have to water the trees when they ‘think’ they might be thirsty and that could be a waste.

We’ll bring you updates as this trial progresses. In the meantime, you can read more in this Fruitnet article.

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Press Release

BAPL AGM – 17th April 2024

British Apples & Pears Limited held its annual AGM at NIAB‘s new Mumford Building in East Malling, Kent and online (via Zoom) on Wednesday, 17th April 2024. 

The Mumford Building was an excellent venue for a well-attended and informative session. 

BAPL was delighted to share the day with friends and colleagues from the National Fruit Show. The National Fruit Show held its AGM first, followed by a guest speaker and then BAPL ran its AGM. Many attendees joined for all three sessions. 

The guest speaker was renowned retail expert, Ged Futter. Ged spoke about the need for suppliers to consider saying ‘no’ to supermarkets, when terms do not support long term sustainability. He shared insights from his extensive experience working as a buyer for a major supermarket and this prompted many questions from the audience.

Ali Capper, BAPL executive chair, Jed Futter, Retail Minds and John Guests, The English Apple Man at the BAPL AGM

Above image (L to R): Ali Capper, executive chair of BAPL, Ged Futter, The Retail Mind, and John Guest, the English Apple Man.

In the BAPL AGM, Ali Capper provided an update on the extensive activities in the last financial year (August 2022 to July 2023). This included:

  • Extensive national media and trade media coverage on issues facing growers
  • Ministerial and political meetings to put forward issues of governmental concern.
  • Social media reach performance up 75% on 2022
  • Website visitors up 170% on 2022
  • Huge success with the #OrchardWatch social media posts sharing a fascinating look inside our growers’ orchards
  • The great start of season promotional work from several retailers to get behind British at this crucial time
  • The plans for 2024, which include working with retailers to ensure we see new season apples on TV and celebrated in store and online

If you missed the AGM, you can view the slides below:

BAPL AGM Chair’s slides

Ged Futter’s slides

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Press Release

Mind the gap – increasing cost of production 2024

New data reveals increasing cost of UK apple production

British Apples and Pears Limited strengthens call for fairer returns.

The cost of producing a kilo of British apples continues to rise for UK growers. In fact, new data reveals that UK growers have seen a further 5.5% increase in costs of production in the last year.

The 2024 cost of production analysis, conducted by farm business consultants Andersons, reveals that it now costs £1.33 (median cost) to produce a kilo of British apples, up from £1.26 per kilo in 2023.

However, it is the cumulative effective of multiple years of increased costs that is really hurting growers, financially and mentally. “In the last two years, growers’ costs of production have increased by 30%, but they have received just an 8% increase in returns from supermarkets.” Explained British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) executive chair, Ali Capper.

“There is simply no let up yet for British top fruit growers.” Capper continued. “The gap between the costs of growing fruit and the return from supermarkets is just getting bigger and bigger.”

In the last 12 months, the biggest contributor to cost increases for UK apple and pear growers has been labour.  Labour makes up around 40% of all grower costs, so the cost has a big impact on potential orchard profitability.

“When growers calculate orchard profitability, they look back to see how costs, like labour, have increased.” Explained Capper. “Back in 2014, a grower thinking about planting a Gala orchard would have checked back over the previous decade and seen labour cost inflation running at 4% per annum. That would have meant the new orchard would be profitable by year 10 or 12 of its 18-year life. However, since 2015, labour cost inflation has been running at 7% per annum. Following the same calculation, a new Gala orchard would never reach profitability. Growing apples and pears in the UK is just not profitable right now.”

With costs outstripping returns, growers are having to cut back on future investment in new varieties, new machinery, cold storage and packhouse infrastructure. This will be a slow painful death without increased returns.

“Some growers are even grubbing orchards and moving out of apple and pear growing altogether. That is a tragedy.” Continued Capper. “We have the ideal conditions for growing the best quality apples and pears in the world. Consumers need access to home-grown healthy fruit and that’s going to be at risk in future years if investment is cut back now.”

What apple and pear growing businesses need is long term sustainable profits and fair retail relationships. Capper said: ““We are very grateful to those supermarkets that are supporting growers – especially around the start of the British season, and in some cases with cost price increases to help fight inflation. We now need all retailers to take pride in championing their British growers to support sustainable profits and reinvestment for future fruit supply.”

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Press Release

BAPL launches manifesto ahead of general election

British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL), the organisation representing commercial top fruit growers, has published its first ever manifesto ahead of a 2024 general election.

Designed to provide all political parties with clear guidance on how best to secure the future of the British apple and pear industry, the manifesto sets out ten clear actions.

“Any new British government has a great opportunity to turn around the current crisis facing UK apple and pear growers.” Explained Ali Capper, executive chair of BAPL. “We have set out clear steps that we believe are both necessary and practical to achieve that.

“We understand that there will be many competing priorities for any new government, but the actions in our manifesto have extremely far-reaching and positive impacts. Implementing these actions will help ensure domestic food security, support the rural economy, our environment and the health of the nation. Those ambitions should be firmly on the agenda of any government.”

The ten actions in the BAPL manifesto concern a range of issues from fair contracts with supermarkets to labour, environmental protection and innovation.

READ THE FULL MANIFESTO

BAPL will be sending the manifesto directly to the leaders of all the main political parties as well as their key representatives for agriculture, farming, health, finance and labour.

“In addition to sending them our new manifesto, we will be offering face-to-face briefings with the political parties.” Explained Ali Capper. “We are very keen to work with anyone who is open to our ideas for a stronger and sustainable British apple and pear industry.”

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Press Release

BAPL adds voice to industry feedback on contractual relationships

In February 2024, British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) contributed to an industry-wide response to DEFRA’s consultation on contracts in the UK fresh produce sector.

READ THE JOINT SUBMISSION ON CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIPS IN FRESH PRODUCE 

The DEFRA consultation and review into fairness in the horticulture supply chain ran from late 2023 to February 2024. The review was part of government activities to support British farmers and improve food security. The focus of this review was on fresh produce.

BAPL along with British Growers Association, British Berry Growers, British Tomato Growers Association and GB Potatoes created a joint submission for this DEFRA review into contractual relationships in the UK fresh produce industry. 

The crop associations’ submission sets out 13 clear recommendations to secure a more equitable and resilient agri-food sector.

Access the full submission from BAPL and other crop associations.

 

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Press Release Research Research

BAPL R&D meeting on 31 January 2024

British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) R&D meeting.

The BAPL research and development team hosted a full day of presentations from researchers and experts to share the latest in crop protection technologies and approaches. 

Audience at BAPL R&D Day

The meeting took place in Kent on 31 January 2024 and was open to members of BAPL who pay a levy to support this vital R&D work.

Rob Saunders, who chairs the BAPL R&D team provided this message at the start of the day.

Following Rob’s opening remarks, the apple and pear growers heard a range of fascinating presentations.

Click on the programme items to open the relevant slide decks (where available). 

 

Programme item Presented by
Welcome and introduction to the BAPL R&D programme ​ (PDF)

Rachel McGauley

PaPPle ​(PDF) NIAB EMR ​
Francis Wamonje​
Matevz Papp-Rupar​
Sarah Arnold​
Michelle Fountain ​
Charles Whitfield​
Scab efficacy trial​ (PDF) Tom Passey NIAB EMR​
Woodlice​ (PDF) Rory Jones ADAS​
Storage (PDF) Richard Colgan NRI and Rachel McGauley​
Climate change survey​ (PDF) Graham Dow
Biochar and LCAs​ (PDF) Russell Graydon
Future projects ​ Rachel McGauley
HCP Update​ (PDF) Simon Conway
EAMU/EA and Risk Register for 2024/25 onwards ​(PDF) Carlos Duarte
R&D Grower Subscription Update ​ Ali Capper
Q&A All

Biochar presenter at BAPL R&D Day

In addition to the presentations, pop-up stands were provided by:

  • Landseer
  • Grid Duck
  • Stemy Energy 
  • NIAB EMR and Growing Kent and Medway
  • HCP 
  • ADAS

Finally, PhD student Charlotte Howard shared a post presentation on the benefits of flower strips in orchards. This was not funded by BAPL, but highly relevant to growers.

 

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Press Release Research Research

New call for research proposals on IPM in apples and pears

British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) research and development team has published a research call for proposals aimed at improving integrated pest and disease management (IPM) in commercial apples and pears.  

The new apple and pear IPM research programme will concentrate on the current issues for the apple and pear industry as well as areas that are likely to increase in importance with the future loss of key actives and potentially new and invasive pests and diseases.

Download full details of the call for IPM research.

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Press Release

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.