A survey of British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL) growers has revealed that they are paying more than twice as much for electricity in December 2022 than in the same month in 2021 and 2020.
The median price paid by UK apple growers per kilowatt hour was 15p in 2020, 16p in 2021 and 35p in December 2022.
According to BAPL, the top fruit industry urgently needs government support to ensure growers stay afloat in the face of these extraordinary cost pressures.
“Our industry has invested heavily in renewable energy and state-of-the-art storage technology, but we still need to buy significant quantities of electricity to keep our fruit cool after harvest.” Explained Ali Capper, BAPL executive chair. “These electricity price rises are really hurting UK growers.”
BAPL is calling on UK government to include the top fruit industry in its Energy and Trade Intensive Industries (ETII) scheme, so that growers would qualify for additional support with energy bills. Growers who took out new contracts in the Autumn/Winter are now trapped in high-cost contracts which are not sustainable and so far, the government has not made the necessary changes.
“We can now supply home-grown apples all year round, which is great for low food miles and UK food security, but we need to store them until consumers want them.” Continued Capper. “There is a real risk that without some additional government support to cover higher storage costs, growers may simply decide not to grow the delicious and nutritious apples in the first place. And that would be a disaster for the biodiversity of our countryside, our food security and the health of our nation.”
For more information on the use of renewable energy in British apple and pear orchards and packhouses, see: Sustainability: A Growing Focus for British apples and pears – a report by Professor Louise Manning from the Royal Agricultural University.