Bramley apple orchard in Sittingbourne

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Sep 11, 2017

Phil's September Blog


‘Interesting Times’. Curse or opportunity?

In 1966, US president Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech that included the words,  “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times...”

Although it is widely now agreed that such a Chinese curse doesn’t actually exist, perhaps it should.

If we consider that uninteresting times are most likely to be characterised by peace, stability and predictability then there is little doubt in my mind that we’re living in ‘interesting times’.

As I write, the Brexit negotiations appear to be advancing at the pace of a geriatric snail.

There is continuing conflict in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, Somali, Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Palestine, the Philippines, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Burundi, Lebanon, Mali, Mozambique and Ukraine, to name but a few.

Oh yes, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and US president, Donald Trump, appear to be on the brink of some seriously ‘interesting’ times.

I’d say we certainly are living in interesting times!

But does ‘interesting’ really have to be a curse?

Take Brexit, for example. The only predictable thing about it, at the moment, is the unpredictability of where it’s heading and where it will end.

If that’s a curse it’s one, nevertheless, with a few up-sides as far as I can see.

As the pound remains weak, and the Euro is at a new high, I cannot see that particular balance readjusting for a very long time to come. Which means that those of our UK customers, purchasing purees and other similar products from mainland European companies, will be seeing their prices heading predictably upwards; unless, that is, they’ve taken the very sensible decision to purchase UK-derived products and banked the sizeable savings and benefitted from the high quality standards.

Conversely, mainland European purchasers are now finding, thanks to those exchange rates, that British high quality processed fruit products really do seem to be (if you’ll pardon the expression) ‘as cheap as chips’.

And, as if those aren’t up-sides enough, there’s also the new-found focus on British fruit that the ‘interesting’ Brexit times have brought about: with people discovering once more the great taste, quality and value that British fruit products offer. Demand for British soft fruit and top fruit remains, interestingly, buoyant.

So, I’ve come to a conclusion: we are living in interesting times but as an anonymous person once said: ‘it’s the curves in the road that make driving more interesting’. The future looks interesting!

Phil

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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24/09/17

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