The future of British apples and pears is hanging in the balance as soaring costs forced orchards to scrap plans to plant a million trees. The saplings were due to be planted by growers this year, but research has shown almost two-thirds have been shelved after a 23 percent rise in production costs.
According to growers’ body British Apples and Pears Limited (BAPL), the situation is unsustainable. It recently carried out a survey of members which found they received an average 0.8 percent year-on-year increase in what supermarkets paid them for their fruit.
This is despite an independent report which recommended growers should receive a minimum 12 percent rise in returns to cover the increased production costs. Ali Capper, BAPL executive chair, said that in a normal year about five per cent of the 15 million trees in orchards across Britain are planted as saplings for renewal as it takes eight to 10 years before they produce fruit. There were plans to plant a million this year but this was scaled back to 480,000 due to the soaring production costs.