Sainsbury's is officially the top supermarket for British apples and pears according to independent figures out today, selling nearly 32,000 tonnes of the fruits last season.
Figures out today from English Apples and Pears Ltd have confirmed Sainsbury's position at the top by volume for the third consecutive year, selling 13,000 more tonnes of home grown apples and pears than any other retailer since 2008. The sales figures have been released at the beginning of the new season which started this week, two weeks earlier than usual thanks to the warm spring.
Sainsbury's will sell 52 different varieties of British apples over the course of the new season and 9 varieties of British pears, more than any other retailer. The earliest red dessert apples will be in stores first, starting with the delicious Discovery variety from orchards in Kent - followed by the Early Windsor and Worcester Pearmain apples and Conference pears.
Sainsbury's stores across the country are gearing up for another bumper year and thanks to strong relationships with specialist English growers Sainsbury's are able to offer more varieties than ever, 61 in total including, rarities such as William Crump and Orleans Reinette apples. Experts at Sainsbury's have been working tirelessly with growers over the past few months, including those at the pioneering 'Concept Orchards' in Kent, to ensure that the new season's range is as abundant, vibrant and tasty as ever.
Simon Twigger, Director of Fresh and Frozen Food at Sainsbury's said: "Once again, for the third year running, we are immensely proud to be the supermarket of choice for English apples and pears, selling more than any other retailer by volume and variety. At Sainsbury's we always want to source the best of British where we can so we're delighted that customers have chosen to share these values with us and enjoy the great ranges on offer.
"I hope customers are looking forward to the new season as much as we are and we'd encourage everyone to buy British from us when they choose one of their five a day."
Sainsbury's is the largest retailer of English apples and pears in the UK, selling more than 260 million apples and pears during the British apple season from over 45 varieties. Of all the British apples and pears sold in the UK, one in four comes from a Sainsbury's store.
Sainsbury's apple and pears expert, Dr Theresa Huxley, said: "The British fruit season will start earlier this year thanks to the warm weather in April when orchards were buzzing with pollinating insects, which meant fruits were set and conditions were ideal for early growth. We're particularly excited about the range of pears that will hit stores in early September as they are exceptionally tasty thanks to the growing conditions.
"We have worked closely with our growers to ensure we get the best ranges in at the right time so customers can enjoy the full selection of varieties, from the pink and rosy sweetness of the Discovery in late July to the autumnal tones of the Egremont Russet, balancing sweetness and sharpness. We are also proud to be the only retailer to sell Bramley apples that are direct descendants of the original Bramley apple tree. We hope our customers continue to enjoy these great ranges and we look forward to putting more delicious seasonal fruit in store."
Adrian Barlow from English Apples and Pears Ltd, said: "Once again, the sales of English apples and pears by Sainsbury's has been exceptional. The industry greatly appreciates their support, their investment in Concept Orchards and the close working relationship with their growers. Sainsbury's wide range of English apples and pears will provide consumers with a great choice of tastes and flavours and we look forward to developing further growth in sales with them during the new season."
New seasons ranges will be on sale over the next few weeks and many of the varieties will come in 'Best of British' selection bags, ranging from traditional to new varieties. Discovery, Worcester, Early Windsor, Spartan, Red Pippin are all available in the 'Red Dessert' bag.
Sainsbury's will also stock nine varieties of British grown pears, including Conference, Comice, Goldermber, Delsanne, Concorde, Williams, Goumonde, Verdi, Elliot and Taylors Gold.
Sainsbury's is committed to working closely with farmers to address any issues and share best practice. Sainsbury's experts are in regular contact with their 33 apple and pear growers across the country to share best practice, promote innovation and introduce techniques to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency.
The 2010/2011 British fruit season officially ended on the 23 July.
Notes to editors
Sourcing with Integrity is one of Sainsbury's corporate values. It means forming mutually productive partnerships with their suppliers that help them raise environmental and social standards, and move towards genuine sustainability.
30,000 total products are on offer in Sainsbury's stores, which makes sourcing a complex and challenging task, however the Agriculture Team experts are dedicated to improving the sustainability of the products and source new UK food producers, of all sizes.
Sainsbury's Concept Orchards were developed as a way to help halt the decline of the British apple and pear orchards. We are using these orchards to develop new varieties and increase yields through new and innovative growing practices. So far, the Concept Orchards project has helped us to increase yields from 20 tonnes per hectare to 60 tonnes. Our Concept Pear Orchard at East Malling is identifying which growing system is most productive under UK growing conditions.