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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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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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New data reveals British apple industry is on a knife-edge

Double digit cost of production increases, low returns and low grower confidence

British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) has published a new set of data that highlights the continued struggles for beleaguered UK top fruit growers.

The full set of data is the largest ever released at one time by the industry.

Over the two years since 2021, British apple growers faced 30% increases in costs of production and received just 8% increases in returns from supermarkets.

In 2022, growers faced cost of production [1] increases of 23% and practically static returns from supermarkets that year of 0.8%. In 2023, British apple growers faced 6-9% cost of production [2] increases and received an average of 7% increases in returns [3] from UK supermarkets.

“This situation is unsustainable.” Said executive chair of BAPL, Ali Capper. “The industry is on a knife edge. I’ve never heard such desperation from our members. When you think about what a good news story our industry should be, it’s heart breaking. Apples are a superfood – great for our health, the environment and our rural economy.

“The volatility in costs has become the biggest challenge faced by growers, many of them out of their control from labour and energy to the ever-increasing cost of the audit burden. We should not be talking about the slow decline of British apple orchards, and generations of family farm businesses at risk of bankruptcy.”

Comments from British apple growers who completed the BAPL survey reveal the stark situation many of them face:

“I’m retiring from growing apples and my son doesn’t want to touch them. He’s seen the returns.”

“As a younger solo grower having taken on the fruit farm, I am incredibly frustrated at how little the supermarkets are willing to pay, whilst also increasing ‘hoops’ to jump through.”

“The industry is in crisis. The price setters are killing us.”    

“I have been growing fruit for over 40 years and never found it so difficult.”           

“Prices have stagnated for the last five years.”                                             

Given this situation, confidence in British apple growing is understandably low:

  • 70% of growers said they are less confident than they were a year ago.
  • Just 3% of growers said they have a ‘true partnership’ with supermarkets, while 45% say retailers only buy on price and that it’s not a true partnership.
  • Almost half (45%) of respondents said they have scaled back their future investment plans.

“Ultimately, it’s not just British growers that are losing out, it’s UK shoppers too.” Continued Ali Capper.

“According to The Grocer’s analysis of Assosia data, in the two years from November 2021 to November 2023, the price of apples has increased significantly with the average price in Aldi rising by 12.6%, Lidl 12.1%, Tesco by 10.9% and Sainsbury’s by 9.1%. Together these four retailers sell over 70% of all British apples and pears. And the averages hide some startling extremes, Lidl’s Oaklands Red Apples 2kg went up by 50%, Morrisons British Apples (six pack) went up 39% and Tesco increased the price of its Rosedene Farms Gala apples (six pack) by 36%.     

“Unfortunately, those consumer price increases are not being matched by the much-needed returns to growers.”

In response to the crisis in the industry, BAPL has set out three critical changes needed to save British apple orchards:

  • Supermarkets to increase returns to growers to reflect the true costs of production and necessary investment.
  • Supermarkets to enter longer-term arrangements with growers to give farmers the confidence to grow this perennial crop, invest in much-needed technology, varieties and automation.
  • Supermarkets to put action behind their words of support for British farming with in-store and online merchandising that celebrates our wonderful fruit.

The BAPL data is not all bad news. Several supermarkets have undertaken excellent promotional work to celebrate the start of the current British apple season. This has included TV advertising by Lidl, print ads and social media farmer profiles by Waitrose and an email campaign, point-of-sale and social media posts by Marks & Spencer.

The promotional support for British apples has resulted in excellent October British apple sales results for some supermarkets, as reported by BAPL in November. Lidl in particular significantly outperformed its market share, selling more than any other supermarket in October (3,030 tonnes). Unfortunately, a number of UK supermarkets have been slower to get behind British apples this season and have instead been importing apples from overseas at a time when UK fruit is in plentiful supply.

British Growers Insights data revealed that in the seven-week period from 2nd October 2023 to 13th November 2023, just 16.7% of the Gala apple packs (SKUs) on shelf in Tesco were British and only 20% of Asda apple packs were British. That compares to 100% in Marks & Spencer and Lidl, and 82.4% in Waitrose, 77.8% in Sainsbury’s.

“It’s astounding to our growers that when we have new season British apples that taste great readily available close to home, supermarkets persist in buying from overseas. UK consumers, who want to buy British whenever they can, are being disadvantaged – and so are British apple growers.”

-ENDS- 

About the BAPL Grower Survey

BAPL commissioned British Growers to survey its members during November 2023. 30 growers and 10 packers responded. The survey was anonymous.  

The Grocer, Assosia Data (Nov 2021 to Nov 2023:

The Grocer’s analysis of Assosia data compared the price of 77 substantially British sourced lines available both at the end of November 2021 and November 2023 in the big four, discounters, Waitrose and Co-op.

Aldi average: 12.62%

Ada average: 8.36%

Co-op average: 3.92%

Lidl average: 12.05%

Morrisons average: 17.41%

Sainsbury’s average: 9.12%

Tesco average: 10.91%

Waitrose: 4.37%

TOTAL AVERAGE: 9.84%

 

NOTES AND REFERENCES

[1] 2022 cost of production data from NFU Promar

[2] 2023 cost of production grower workshop Dec 2023 from independent farm consultants, Andersons Consulting

[3] BAPL grower survey conducted in November 2023 by British Growers on behalf of BAPL. See above for more details.

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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. 


Media coverage for this news included:

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British Apples & Pears Limited commissions vital crop research

As soon as it became clear that the AHDB was withdrawing from horticultural crop research, the British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) board acted quickly to establish an alternative arrangement.

The BAPL R&D Group now works actively to enable growers to meet the challenges of the future. The Group is chaired by Rob Saunders and its members include top fruit growers and agronomists.

The Group has agreed a focus on projects that directly address the issues that become more challenging as the crop protection landscape changes. These include woolly aphid, hard-bodied insects, and codling moth. On the disease front, the immediate focus will be on scab and canker. 

The first call for crop research proposals went out in early 2023, and the BAPL R&D Group received shortlisted presentations on 8 March 2023.

Research proposals were evaluated for funding by the BAPL R&D Group to ensure they offered value for money and had a realistic chance of making a difference for growers. As a result, some proposals were not accepted.

The research projects the BAPL R&D Group intends to fund from this first call are to be undertaken by NIAB EMR and ADAS.

NIAB EMR will undertake work on woolly aphid, blossom weevil (anticipating the loss of acetamiprid), codling (in anticipation of the loss of indoxacarb), scab (anticipating the loss of dodine and captan) and canker.

ADAS will undertake work on woodlice, which has become a significant, though localised problem in recent years.

BAPL R&D work will be funded by a voluntary subscription collected at point of sale by BAPL. The proceeds from this subscription also contribute to the EAMU programme run by the newly established Horticultural Crop Protection Ltd.

In addition to raising a modest R&D subscription from its members, BAPL Ltd has been successful in obtaining additional sources of funding to tackle other challenges. For example, it has already started an Innovate UK-funded project (Taking Apple Production to Net Zero), which is primarily a biochar-focused project. BAPL is also seeking other sources of funding for tackling issues such as reducing storage costs and rootstock breeding work. 

“The demise of AHDB research is both a threat and an opportunity for the top fruit industry.” Explained Rob Saunders, BAPL R&D Group Chair.

“The threat was that without AHDB research the sector would have no mechanism to tackle the pest and disease challenges brought about by regulatory change, climate instability and the arrival of new pests, along with the challenge of our journey to net zero. 

“The opportunity was to create a highly focused, grower-led team to identify priorities, invite research tenders, and commission research that has a strong chance of making a difference for top fruit growers.”

The BAPL R&D Group is open to top fruit growers who would like to input into the Group’s priorities and ‘kick the tyres’ of projects before they go ahead. Anyone interested should contact Rob Saunders directly rob.saunders@hlhltd.co.uk .

 

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IPM research – call for proposals

British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) has opened a call for research proposals related to integrated pest and disease management (IPM).

Applications are open to single contractors or collaborative consortia.

The deadline for proposals is midday on 28 February 2023. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to present at the BAPL Technical Committee meeting on 8 March 2023.

Read the full research call here

 

Enquiries should be directed to: research@britishapplesandpears.co.uk