For the first time, an independent analysis has exposed the real cost-of-production crisis facing UK apple growers. The analysis, conducted by farm business consultants Andersons, reveals that it now costs £1.26 (median cost) to produce 1kg of British apples.
“I can’t think of a single apple grower that is making money,” said Ali Capper, executive chair at British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL). “The costs of labour, storage, haulage, tree planting, and orchard maintenance have all increased. What hasn’t increased is the return to growers. This analysis confirms what, anecdotally, growers have been saying for months. UK apple growing just isn’t profitable at the moment. In fact, for most it is loss-making. When growers cannot afford to invest in new apple trees and are grubbing orchards, the consequences are serious, not just for growers but also for the rural landscape and economy. We face biodiversity loss, lower returns to the treasury, and poorer outcomes for consumers. No-one wants to import more apples. It makes no sense from a carbon- or water-footprint perspective, and it diminishes UK food security. We need to see specific government support to address energy costs and labour shortages, and we urgently need fairer returns for growers from UK supermarkets to ensure the future of the British apple industry.”
BAPL points to a disconnect between the prices consumers are paying for apples and the return to growers. According to ONS data, the lowest consumer price of apples increased 17% between September 2021 and September 2022. However, UK apple growers only reported a 0.8% increase in what supermarkets pay them for their fruit.
Despite significant increases in the cost of production, British apples remain highly affordable. With a single British apple costing around 34p to UK shoppers, they are less than half the price of a chocolate bar and offer huge nutritional benefits.