As the 2019 apple and pear harvest comes to a close at the end of October, there is an exciting new addition to the many different green and red varieties of British apples that will appear on the supermarket shelves – our new pink skinned variety, grown here in Kent and also the first pink apple variety to be grown on a commercial scale here in the UK.
We have named our new apple Flanders Pink™ after our farm in Hoo and this is the first year after several years of growing trials, that the new orchards planted with Flanders Pink™ will produce a large enough crop for it to be sold in supermarkets.
Described in blind consumer tasting sessions as being sweet, crisp and very juicy, this new variety will meet help meet a gap in the market for British growers as all other pink apples sold in the UK are grown overseas. UK farmers currently grow around 40% of all the apples eaten here in the UK and the industry is working hard to increase its market share and to displace the need for imported fruit.
Carol Ford Commercial Director explains: “This is an exciting development for our team which has taken significant investment and collaboration to produce and we are delighted with the results – a British pink skinned apple grown on a commercial scale. Flanders Pink™ has scored highly in the all-important consumer taste tests as well as being suitable to grow here in the UK’s damp climate. It also travels and stores well – vital for modern apple varieties, so that they reach the end consumer in the very best condition.”
Modern commercial apple and pear orchards have changed significantly over the last 30 years here in the UK with a range of new and exciting varieties, developed to suit people’s changing tastes. Whilst old favourites such as Cox and Bramley are still grown, 30 years ago they were typically the only varieties grown in the UK. Newer varieties such as Royal Gala, Cameo and Zari have given shoppers much greater choice and more efficient cold storage technology has helped to extend the season in supermarkets for British apples and pears.
Carol Ford continues: “In the late 1980’s/90’s like most commercial growers this business focused on growing Cox and Bramley and typically sold Cox from September to January, Bramley from September to May and some older varieties from September to December.”
“Whilst there were many different varieties of apples to grow, many were not commercially viable to be grown on a large scale due to lack of pest and disease resistance, appearance, taste, travel and storage ability. As an industry, we also didn’t have the latest cold storage and packing technology or use the best growing systems in our orchards to enable us to compete effectively with overseas growers, who flooded the UK market with new varieties which were available for 12 months of the year.”
“Despite tough times for the sector, our industry has been fighting back and growers like us have made a significant investment into the businesses, enabling us to compete and we have collectively been able to regain market share. What this means for consumers is that they have more choice of quality British apples from a more sustainable source with fewer food miles. It is also better tasting and available for longer in supermarkets. This year for the first time ever we were able to supply British Royal Gala apples for 48 weeks, significantly extending the season.”
“Our modern growing systems also mean that we now grow about three times as many trees per acre than 30 years ago and we have planted over 2 million new fruit trees in the last several years. To grow the quality and quantity of fruit that we do each year would have previously needed between 7,500-10,000 acres and we now grow it on just 2,850 acres. Growing more and better-quality fruit on less land is vital for the wider industry, as land is expensive and there are other pressures on it for housing and other farming uses here in the South East.”