Leading apple and pear producer AC Goatham & Son sold 43 per cent more packs of apples during the first Covid lockdown than it did in the same period in 2019, the company has reported.
Meanwhile, 860,000 new UK households bought pears for the first time, according to Kantar data – welcome news for Goatham’s which grows almost half of all British Conference pears.
The producer said it hoped these trends would remain as it continues its extensive programme of new orchard planting in Kent and Medway.
In total, 137 acres were planted in the winter of 2020/21 and 148 acres are planned for the coming winter, which will help ensure a higher volume of British apples and pears are available in the years to come.
However, a record wet spring and the coldest May for 25 years might affect the 2021 crop, Goatham’s warned.
Managing director Ross Goatham said: “People bought more apples and pears during the lockdowns here in the UK because they store well and last for a long time and this suited their pattern of shopping which moved online, to in-store collection, and to less frequent shopping trips.
“Research also shows that 62 per cent of Brits have made a change to their diet to be healthier over the past year, and 33 per cent are including more fruit and vegetables in their diets.
“This is good news for British growers like us who are continuing our major orchard planting programme, which will ensure there is a greater volume of British apples and pears in the years to come.
“That said, like all farmers, our harvests are very dependent on the weather and this year we have seen a very wet, cold spring which is a poor combination when pollination is taking place in the orchards.
“The gains we would hope to make year on year with the increase in production as new orchard yields increase might be more modest this year, although it is still too early to estimate the effect the weather has had.”