To achieve year-round apple supply, around 145,000 tonnes of apples are typically stored for around six months each season, depending on variety. The supply of UK grown top fruit is, therefore, restricted to a 26-week marketing window from September to the end of March, due to late stored fruit being unable to compete with new season Southern Hemisphere fruit on quality.
With the supply of UK grown top fruit predicted to increase by 14% over the next few years, the challenge is to extend the season into April/June without compromising quality or flavour. A greater understanding of how to maintain the flavour of British apples would provide an opportunity to extend the British season and reduce the reliance on imports and competition.
Professor Terry and his team envisaged that allied to the financial and environmental benefits of cutting imports, a six-week extension to the season would equate to an additional £10m retail income in the UK for the Gala apple alone. A figure which would increase when extended to other important UK-grown apple cultivars such as Braeburn, Rubens, Kanzi and Evelina.
A paradigm shift in the way UK apples are stored is needed, such that postharvest storage technologies are physiologically targeted and focussed on maintaining ‘flavour-life’ as opposed to using blanket treatments throughout storage for life extension alone.