‘Live’ and in-person

Features Posted 11/10/21
The return of the National Fruit Show brings growers, suppliers and buyers together again

The committee of the Marden Fruit Show Society (MFSS) has expressed its delight at being able to stage the 88th National Fruit Show as a ‘live’ in-person event at the Kent Event Centre in Detling on 20 and 21 October.

Ever evolving, the show will boast a number of new features this year, with MFSS Executive Chair Sarah Calcutt overseeing a series of exciting changes to the structure, governance and content of the annual industry get together.

The 2021 show will be opened by Tom Bradshaw, Deputy President of the NFU who will be meeting with growers throughout the morning and attend the President’s reception at midday, hosted by current MFSS President Teresa Wickham.

Key figures will include representatives of producer organisations and those with knowledge of the new Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS).

In a move to boost its environmental footprint the event has moved away from plastic packaging and will instead be using recycled and recyclable paper pulp punnets and tray liners.

The show’s return is being enthusiastically welcomed by the industry as a sign that ‘business as usual’ is returning. Sarah Calcutt said: “The National Fruit Show is a much-loved industry event that delivers a useful and important forum for growers. We are determined that its new features, including the conference forum, new speakers and industry-led advice and support, really answer growers’ urgent questions.

“These are unprecedented times and we are doing everything within our power to ensure that the voices and needs of growers are heard by those with decision-making responsibilities.”

The show dinner and dance will bring the first day to its conclusion and will once again feature the auction and industry Bonanza Prize.

Who’s exhibiting

Currently some 90 exhibitors are booked to attend the show. The show team is delighted that many businesses who have supported the event for several decades have booked again, while there are also many new sponsors and exhibitors attending for the first time.

MFSS is delighted to be welcoming international Institutions like MHA MacIntyre Hudson into the heart of the show, along with Azets, Harvest Green Developments and many more.

Following its debut at the show in 2019, The Hive will return to showcase new, entrepreneurial tech-led companies that are appearing for the first time.

Companies announced so far in this space are:

OX Truck – how do you like the idea of a self-build and self-maintaining farm vehicle? OX Trucks can be configured as a flat-bed lorry, people carrier or mobile workshop; this is an opportunity to meet Emily, the brains behind the concept, and learn how a solar-powered, build-it-yourself vehicle could work for your business. The Ox Truck team will be joined by Concordia, the BASIS and NRoSO registration desk and the amazing team from City Harvest, who will be talking to growers and packers about re-purposing non retail fruit.

What’s new?

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  • On day one there will be a new conference event in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, sponsored by MHA MacIntyre Hudson. The event will see Master Fruiterer Laurence Olins chair a panel of speakers including PhD students and Nuffield scholars, with the session culminating with food policy expert Professor Tim Lang discussing the challenges of feeding Britain and the dichotomy of food and environmental policy. The second conference session promises to be a lively debate entitled: “How can Farmers go green when they are in the red?” Come and join in, make your opinions know, have your say!
  • A new competition – Britain’s Tastiest Pear – will be judged at the show, alongside the existing favourite, Britain’s Tastiest Apple. Judges include Covent Garden Tenants’ Association Chair Gary Marshall, grower Peter Checkley and John and Stuart Guest. A tray of the overall winner’s fruit will be included in the traditional basket presented to the Lord Mayor of London on 27 October at Mansion House, and the winner and their partner will be invited as guests of the Fruiterers at the lunch following the presentation.
  • New awards for 2021 include the Jon Jones Prize, endowed by the team he used to lead at Richard Hochfeld. The winner will be an individual who has worked consistently for the benefit of the industry, someone who has both excelled at their day job but also gone above and beyond to ensure fairness in all that they do. Nominations have now closed for 2021, but the society would like to build a list for the future. The second new award, which is open for nominations until 30 September, is the Ian Johnson Award for Practical Innovation. This seeks a solution that doesn’t involve an app, nor a computer ideally, but offers a farm-driven solution to a troublesome problem faced by many in the sector. Ian was a very practical man who liked no-nonsense solutions and this prize pays tribute to such innovation. Please send nominations to sarah@nationalfruitshow.org.uk.
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    Sponsors

    We have four very important businesses at the heart of our show support network – NP Seymour, Agrovista, UKCA and, new in 2021, Worldwide Fruit.

    Their teams will be standing by to answer your questions around new product launches, show you the latest kit, demonstrate new storage technology, talk about the latest innovations in crop management or invite visitors to taste exciting apple or pear varieties. The society is proud of its four key sponsors, which are the embodiment of what the show is about: delivering excellence in knowledge for growers.

    Love Cider Competition 2021

    Ahead of the National Fruit Show’s live event, the Love Cider competition took place in September. Unlike the trade-focused show, Love Cider is a consumer-facing contest open to all cider lovers on the show’s social media channels. The chair of judges this year was well-known food broadcaster Nigel Barden, supported by drinks writer Melissa Cole and MFSS committee member Adrian Harris from NIAB EMR.

    The winners of the competition – which seeks to find the best ciders in three categories: traditional, blended and pear/perry – will be revealed at the show. In 2020, Kent Cider’s Yowler took the overall prize.

    Something for everyone

    For those wishing to top up their NRoSO and BASIS points, the BASIS team will be on hand at reception to record the details of those attending. The show will be packed with the latest and best in current fruit farming technology, all wrapped around one of the best days out in the industry calendar.

    Don’t forget that the event is set to continue late into the night with the National Fruit Show dinner, a great night out with local seasonal food and music from industry band Bullshed (Nigel Jenner on drums is not to be missed!)

    The Bonanza Prize – a £10,000 solar installation courtesy of new partner Harvest Green Developments – is also awarded at the dinner. So, with dinner, dancing, an auction and prize giving it’s a great night out with friends and colleagues. With more than 240 diners attending this year, there are a few seats still available so it’s not too late to book.

    With Covid-19 still around, MFSS is asking everyone to register their attendance on the show website. In line with government guidance, hand sanitiser will be available at regular points around the show. Mask wearing will be left to visitors’ discretion, but current guidance will be monitored to ensure that the event is as safe as possible for attendees.

    Click here to read our full preview


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