Bramley apple orchard in Sittingbourne

News from Fourayes

Jul 1, 2017

Phil's July Blog

We could be losing more than we think!

I’m not a campaigner by nature, but a recent conversation with our Bramley apple procurement team brought to mind the expression: ‘you never miss the water until the well runs dry’. In this case, the ‘well’ in question is the  Bramley apple .

We’ve been aware for some time that Bramley apple farmers have been grubbing orchards due to the low returns they can achieve for their crop. This year, our circle of regular suppliers has reduced their orchards by 20%. That’s quite simply staggering.

When Good Housekeeping undertook a study of cooking apples they concluded that the Bramley apple outperforms everything else by a clear margin. Not only does the Bramley apple hold its flavour through the cooking process, it also delivers a delightful melt-in-the-mouth texture that no other apple comes close to.

The Bramley apple is probably one of the most recognisable fruit brands – admired by leading professional chefs and home cooks alike. Quite simply, when it comes to cooking everything from crumbles and pies to turnovers and tarts, nothing comes close to this uniquely British fruit: the Bramley apple.

With demand for Bramley apples on the rise it is quite clear that it’s the value put on the crop that’s the issue. When input costs equal or exceed output returns the equation simply doesn’t work.

As one long-time Bramley apple farmer recently said: ‘If I was choosing to go into farming now, I wouldn’t be a Bramley apple farmer!’ That, sadly, says it all.

In a world where deliveries are made next day (regardless of how late the order might have been placed) we are getting used to an ‘available-on-demand’ culture. Sadly that doesn’t apply to Bramley apples.

To replace an orchard that’s been grubbed is a long way from ‘instant’.

Putting to one side for a moment the astronomical cost of purchasing trees and planting them, a newly-planted orchard will not bear fruit for several years. In fact, the first commercially viable fruit is unlikely to appear until around year 6. How many investors would be happy to get no return for that long?

Bramley apple orchards have other benefits too: a recent study by Bangor University looked at the value of orchards as carbon sinks in the fight against Global Warming. Added to that is the value of orchards for wildlife – irreplaceable.

Imagine, for a moment, biting into a chunky slice of hot Bramley apple pie; the slight crunch of the texture, then that melting moment as the flavour comes through, complimented by the slight sweetness of the pastry. Mmmm, delicious.

Well, if you want to hold onto that thought, we all need to make sure we hold onto the Bramley apple.


Phil Acock. Managing Director and Mad Scientist at Fourayes; the UK’s number one grower and processor of English Bramley apples and processor of fruits from the UK and across the globe.

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