New seasonal worker scheme delights fruit growers - Fruit & Vine

New seasonal worker scheme delights fruit growers

The government’s five-year seasonal worker scheme will ensure long-term planning for farmers.

Seasonal male worker picking apples
Credit: British Apples & Pears

Apple and pear growers have welcomed the government’s five-year seasonal worker scheme.

The news comes following John Shropshire’s independent review into labour shortages in the food supply chain.

Ali Capper, executive chair of British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL), says: “We are delighted with the government response.

“At long last, our growers have the labour certainty they need to plan for the future.

“Our pleas have been answered.”

Ali Capperexecutive chair of British Apples & Pears Limited
Ali Capper Credit: British Apples & Pears

Peace of mind

Speaking of the reassurance it brings for growers, she continued: “Until now, apple and pear growers in the UK have not known from one year to the next whether they would be able to access the seasonal workers they need to pick their crop.

“This kind of uncertainty has been incredibly stressful and entirely unnecessary.

“With a seasonal worker scheme, we can now plan for the long term.

Seasonal workers in apple orchard
Credit: British Apples & Pears


Ali added: “What’s really important for government to understand is that as a sector, we want to grow.

“Produce more apples and pears, and that means more labour not less.

”We hope this government commitment is associated with a growing number of workers to support our sector’s growth.

”We’d also urge the government to look at extending the visa length from six to nine months.

”This will better reflect the reality of the extended fresh produce growing season in the UK.”

Read more: Latest data on British apple and pear supermarket performace

Funding for new technology has also been welcomed, with advancements in the field supported by the government’s initiatives.

Ali said: “In terms of this announcement, we also welcome the commitment to robotic picking technologies.

“This is an incredibly complex area and many technology companies have struggled to create a workable solution.

“When you’re trying to replicate the expert eyes and gentle hands of an experienced fruit picker, it’s not easy.

“However, we are keen to see progress in the technology in this area and the government support could definitely help.


Most apple and pear growers are already using highly automated processes.

However, further automation funding the government has promised is also welcomed.

John Shropshire’s independent review into labour shortages in the food supply chain has ensured apple and pears growers have finally been heard.

Ali Capper concluded thanking him for his ‘thorough and thoughtful’ review.

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