16 November 2001
‘Half supermarket apples imported’

By Isabel Davies

MOST supermarkets are sourcing more than 50% of their apples and pears from abroad, according to a survey by Friends of the Earth.

It claims that, out of the big eight retailers, only Waitrose is buying more of its fruit from home than overseas, despite a bumper harvest in the UK.

The survey involved 130 stores in late October-early November. It found 71% of the fruit on offer in Waitrose was believed to be home-grown.

Waitrose was taking part in a British fruit festival, but other supermarkets involved in promotions had much less British fruit, say campaigners.

Safeway and Tesco came bottom of the league table, with only 25% and 31% respectively of total apples and pears stocked coming from the UK.

The Co-op came in at 32%, with Marks & Spencer only marginally better with 33% of British fruit.

Sainsburys had 38% of apples and pears from the UK, with Somerfield and Asda coming in joint second place with 43%.

“Many UK apples varieties are in danger of disappearing except in museum-like collections,” said FoE Real Food campaigner Sandra Bell.

“Supermarkets should be doing more to support British fruit growers.”

John Breach, chairman of the British Independent Fruit Growers Association said he was not surprised by the findings.

“Over recent years the supermarkets have made it increasingly difficult for us to supply them,” he said.

But a spokesman for Safeway – the supermarket at the bottom of the league table – claimed one in three of the apples sold in its stores are British.

“Through strong marketing we have sold more British apples than ever before, with sales of British Coxes up 73% on last year,” he said.

“Last month we also launched a local apple labelling scheme, so that customers can identify and buy local apples in Safeway stores.”