English apples under threat

Orchards in England have been in a steady decline since 1987. There numbers are so low that farmers in Poland who sell their produce almost exclusively to Russia are now looking at Britain to sell their apples to.
British farmers are struggling with supplies of apples that are produced at cheaper prices from Eastern Europe . They just can’t compete and are now facing a bleak future.
Industry experts are predicting that apple growing could decline the same as Britain’s manufacturing industry.
Adrian Barlow, chief executive of Kent-based Apples and Pears said, “Every industry faces competition, but apple growers in England face it intensely.
“Apples are such an integral part of English life, but we simply cannot produce them as cheaply as other countries.
“We have already faced huge competition from the likes of France, Germany and the Southern Hemisphere.
“But since 2004, Poland has entered the frame. In 2005, it was the largest producer of apples in the European Union. It’s new competition for us.
“An indication of the problems we’re encountering is that there we 1,550 registered apple growers in England in 1987. Now there are just 430.”
In recent years the apple market has been swamped which has been caused by a huge rise in apple production across the world.
Globally 40 million tonnes of apples were produced in 1990, but last year a staggering 63 million tonnes had been produced.
The problem for Europe is that there are too many apples and not enough of a demand. This means that much of the fruit is left to rot. The knock on effect is that prices have dropped considerably, putting English farmers under immense pressure.
Mr Barlow said, “We had a situation last autumn when 18 kilogram (40lb) boxes of apples were changing hands on the Continent for as little as £1. That is a terrible state of affairs.
“Competition is fine, but English growers will have to become even smarter and even more competitive.

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