Sunniest June for 66 years brings great tasting British apples
8th 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 has 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.
“Unfortunately, growers are yet to see cost pressures ease,” added Ali. “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 the government that many other business sectors are receiving.
“The cost pressures on growers are already causing contraction in the top fruit industry,” continued Ali. “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.
“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!”