Innovation is the theme for the 2019 National Fruit Show, which will be held from 10am till 5.30pm on Wednesday 23 and from 10am till 3.30pm on Thursday 24 October at the Kent Event Centre, Detling.

The show, which is open to fruit industry trade and associated businesses and bodies, will be officially opened by Minette Batters, NFU President, and following a short presentation and speech, visitors will be able to wander through the extensive range of exhibitors to see the best of the fruit industry, catching up with familiar faces while gaining an understanding of what’s new and exciting for the sector in the year ahead.

Now in its 86th year, the show will of course continue to have competition at its heart and this year there will be over 20 different classes available to growers from across the UK to compete in. There are plenty of big prizes that growers aspire to take home including the best all round exhibit at the show, which was last year won by R D Applegrowers who scored an impressive 99.25 points for its Gala entry.

As in previous years growers entering the show are supported in packaging their fruit, and nuts by Produce Packaging who provide the specialist packaging to ensure the fruit arrives in Detling ‘show ready’.

For exhibitors who haven’t yet entered, the closing dates for the competition are 7 October for apple and pear classes, 11 October for cobnuts and walnuts, 16 October for the heaviest apples and pears and 18 October for soft fruit.

For growers, by growers

The National Fruit Show regards itself as the show ‘for growers by growers’. Its current President, Rt Hon Michael Jack CBE, is celebrating his tenth and final year in the role this year. Sarah Calcutt also marks ten years in her role as chairwoman, but who is remaining in her role for the foreseeable future.

This year over 90 exhibitors will be at the show with well-known names such as Hutchinsons, Bayer crop science, Landseer, JR Breach, FP Matthews and OnePay all taking a presence. The National Fruit Show’s education programme, which is part-funded by some of the profits from the show, is also there to show its work with local schools to a much wider audience. Sam Smith, the education programme leader, will be on hand to demonstrate how the work she and her team does is so important in investing in the next generation of fruit industry experts.

The show’s sponsors, NP Seymour, Avalon Produce Ltd and Agrovista have this year been joined by a new supporter, UKCA Ltd and Isolcell. UKCA is the well-known UK fruit storage business and is the distribution partner for the global Isolcell. Together they are supporting the National Fruit Show and will be on hand to talk to their industry peers.

The show dinner is a highlight and this year’s event will be held on the evening of Wednesday 23 October, the first day of the show. An auction of promises will raise funds for the show’s education programme and the Bonanza Prize will also be awarded. As always, South East Farmer magazine is sponsoring the live band, Bull Shed, and the evening will be a true celebration of the end of harvest and a brilliant industry ‘night out’.

New for 2019

The Hive promises to get a real buzz going at this year’s National Fruit Show. The new ‘zone’ will be open to businesses with emerging technologies, which may be in their infancy and have not exhibited at such a show before, as well as those who may never have attended the show. It will be a test bed of new ideas which visitors and fellow exhibitors can explore.

One of the first entrants to ‘The Hive’ is Sean O’Keefe who is showcasing COGZ which aims to help growers redistribute their waste product using an innovative online platform. He’s hoping that supermarkets, food producers, businesses or even consumers will see the potential in this and he will be using ‘The Hive’ for its launch to the industry.

Alongside Sean in ‘The Hive’ is Martin Lishman, a technology company dedicated to the fruit industry which will show its ‘magic apples’. The ‘magic apples’ are replica apples made by a 3D printer which contain an impact tracker designed to record the journey of an apple from the tree to the packhouse faithfully recording every (gentle) bump on that road. Its purpose is to let the grower know how much damage is inflicted and where, so that changes can be made to minimise any bruising and therefore improve the quality of the fruit by the time it arrives on shelf. Show visitors will have the opportunity to see for themselves the ‘magic apples’ as well as exploring the other new faces in ‘The Hive’.

Also new to the show this year, the Institute of Directors is taking a stand and is keen to talk to farmers and growers. This marks a shift in perceptions away from the low skilled, low paid towards a modernised, highly technical and competitive environment which in turn, is attracting attention from business groups not traditionally associated with the sector. It will certainly be an interesting show once again celebrating and promoting the people and promise of the British top fruit sector.

Click here to read more our full National Fruit Show preview