Reporting to the Gala Club Committee, Adrian Barlow, CEO of English Apples & Pears offered good news and some friendly words of advice. “A whopping 31,395 tonnes of English Gala had been sold to date, representing a huge increase over last year’s 23,378 tonnes, and UK growers have enjoyed the lion’s share of the home market, seeing off competitors with optimal sizes and superior flavour”, said Adrian.
He observed that the downside of this year’s market was low prices, a feature of the wider economic situation in Europe, and largely due to the ban on imports of fresh produce from Europe into Russia.
“We are increasing our sales platform into multiples, which has grown by 11%, and extending our season, with stocks available to take us to late April. However, with later storage we must never lose sight of the importance of fruit flavour,” said Adrian. He further commented that life outside of the multiple supply chain was dire, as it was across the whole of Europe, and he described wholesale market prices as ‘carnage’.
He observed that the challenge for the industry is to decide whether to build upon sales to the major discounters, which currently have an increasing 11% share of the market. “There are huge amounts of new shelf space in the discount stores, but with ever-present low prices, trading may be uneconomic,” said Adrian.
He also reported his delight with the publicity programme launched in January in support of UK apple sales. “We have won many new friends through television and radio broadcasts, including Heart FM and 103.5FM, an Asian radio station reaching a huge new market sector”.