Move is part of efforts to support British growers in difficult year for production

The Co-op has acted to support the British apple industry, which has faced a series of crop challenges due to hot weather and a lack of rain this summer.

The latest move sees the convenience store chain increase availability of mini apples to nearly 1,300 stores, representing a 120% increase. It said the move both reduces waste and supports farmers by utilising more of the crop, which has not sized up due to the extreme weather.

The Co-op stressed mini apples offer delicious-tasting fruit that is perfect for children’s packed lunches.

The retailer has also extended its use of British apples, working with growers to switch between varieties to extend the season. It again expects to sell UK-grown apples for 52 weeks of this year.

The Co-op pointed out that it supports the NFU’s Fruit and Vegetable Pledge, and is ”committed to close working relationships with British farming and the fresh produce sector to support throughout the seasons”. This includes the specification of fresh fruit and vegetables and the extension of selling seasons to help with produce that is harvested earlier, or later, than intended, accommodating variations to crops, and reducing waste.

Sinead Bell, Co-op director of trade for fresh, chilled and bakery, explained: “Co-op continually works closely with its farmers and growers to ensure that great-tasting fresh produce does not go to waste. Supporting our suppliers throughout the seasons is what we do.

”Unfortunately, shoppers can all too often be put off by fresh produce that is a different size, colour or shape than they are used to, but our farmers are facing challenges, and we all must work together to ensure that delicious, great-tasting seasonal fresh produce ends up on our tables where it belongs.”