Shoppers are being urged to support local growers by checking where their fruit and fruit juice comes from before they reach the checkout.
To mark Apple Day 2013 (21 October), an annual celebration of apples and orchards in the UK, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is seeking justice for British growers.
According to DEFRA, the UK still only produces about 10% of the fruit the country consumes, compared to about 55% of vegetables. While UK fruit imports total between £2.6 and £2.7bn each year.
Just over one-third (38%) of the apples we consume in England every year is home-grown – despite the fact that temperature and rainfall levels provide an ideal climate to give English apples a fuller flavour than many imported varieties.
This year’s weather in particular – the late spring and hot summer – created ideal growing conditions for a bumper apple harvest.
“Despite having the ideal climate we import most of the apples we eat and all of the orange juice we drink.”
Graeme Willis, senior food and farming campaigner at CPRE
However, the area of land growing apples in England and Wales has flatlined since 2003. According to Natural England, traditional orchards have declined by 75% since the 1950s.
Research by Zenith, meanwhile, shows that orange juice on the shelves outnumbers apple juices by over four to one. Orange juices makes up 54% of fruit juices compared to 13% apple juice.
Graeme Willis, senior food and farming campaigner at CPRE, said: “Despite having the ideal climate we import most of the apples we eat and all of the orange juice we drink.
“We want people to try one of the many superb English apples first. Before plumping for the usual and imported Golden Delicious or a Granny Smith, search out just some of the varieties grown here.
“The range of flavour is amazing: Discovery, Cox, Russet, Bramley’s Seedling, Malling Kents, or something a bit unusual like the Ribston Pippin which has just come in to season.”
He added: “Most of all think twice before reaching for the same old carton of imported orange juice or an imported apple. Your taste buds will thank you, as will English apple growers.”