As the English cherry season draws to a close the weather has been a vast improvement on last year which saw cold, dull weather
“We are very happy about how this season has gone,” said Jon Clark, Director at FGA Farming. “The weather has been very kind: dry with lots of sunshine which produced good quality, firm fruit. Overall volumes are similar to last year but we had a lot more class I fruit from the grading.
FGA Farming has two orchards in Kent covering 100ha and since acquiring them in 2020 have done a lot of work to improve fruit size and quality by following some Chilean techniques of their owners who produce fruit for the international market, this work is support by a UK based agronomist.
“The season started a few days early this year and has ended a little earlier than normal due the temperatures of 35-40 degrees in late July which ripened the later fruit ahead of expectations.”
According to Jon there was a bit competition from cheaper imports at the start of the season because of larger imports from mainland Europe that have a lower cost of production due to a number of factors.
“UK growers have higher costs; this is due to an increase in labour costs as well as increasing energy and transport costs but also the need for orchard protection as one rain storm destroy your crop. We have been ok for labour, we were expecting returnees from the Ukraine, but that didn’t happen because of the war. Instead, we brought in some of our pickers who work for our parent company in Chile, these are professional pickers and did a great job and this was supported by pickers from Europe and Indonesia.”
FGA Farming markets their cherries, through its sister company Fruit Growers Alianza, under two brands: Buddy’s and Tudor Garden, these have very quickly become known for high quality product both in the UK and in the export markets.
“This season we will export around 35% of our UK cherry production to the middle East, Asia and European markets, in addition around 10% is sold in the national markets. Our focus is to produce quality and fruit size, as we do this, we need to match that to the customer. We have to consider all markets due to increasing costs and lower returns nationally, at a time where there is an increase demand for premium fruit internationally. We can’t change the UK market, but we can change the market we supply to ensure a strong and secure future.”
“The harvest time is quite stressful, having spent a year building and investing to your crop there is a lot to do in a few weeks, but we are blessed with a good team at FGA Farming of both full-time employees and long-term seasonal workers along with our pickers. We really value all they do, along with the customers who want our fruit. It is quite humbling when consumers around the UK, and the world, take the time to message us on email or through our social media to say how much they enjoy our fruit.”
For more information:
Tel: +44 1354 699420