The panel at the 2021 retailer briefing by British Apples and Pears consisted of James Simpson, Ben Bardsley and Tony Harding on the grower side, Professor Louise Manning of the Royal Agricultural University sharing sustainability insights and yours truly in the hot seat sharing insights into the planned PR campaign and the work of British Apples and Pears.
It was a good thing we had the voice of Farming Today, Charlotte Smith, in the chair to keep us in order.
I was pleased with the way it went. Our job was to discuss the critical issues facing British top fruit growers and the strides they are taking in becoming a world leading sustainable industry, delivering a world class product.
Historically, a briefing was held as part of the season launch campaign in October; a few years ago we realised that this just wasn’t delivering as it was too late to influence retailer PR and promotional plans.
As a result we now have two events – a May briefing where growers and retail representatives get together and share what the campaign has delivered, what it has planned for the year in hand and some insight into the work going on in orchards and in packhouses and the season launch event starting on 4 October this year and with a week of activities planned to promote the crop and drive sales.
This October event is now very much focused towards the consumer press and media, putting the message about great British apples and pears in front of as many consumers as possible, helping them make the sensible decision that there is nothing better than homegrown, healthy, fruit.
The May event is important. Both members and retailers have the opportunity to let us know what they need and how we can best help them. I shared data on market share vs British top fruit sales. There is a segment of the high street that significantly over-indexes with sales of homegrown fruit and equally there are areas where we would dearly love to increase our work, helping sell more British fruit as opposed to fruit that has travelled much further.
The campaign is going to make a substantial investment this season in helping consumers find packs of British top fruit. This will include all ranges, especially those that have a choice of varieties.
We are commissioning a series of ‘dark adverts’ that are visible only to the intended target group, with their delivery informed by previous search choices and accounts already followed. That way we can show a Tesco, Sainsburys, Co-op, or Lidl customer where to find British fruit both in store and online, what the packaging looks like and how to see who the grower is, helping bring consumers right to the shelf and make the right choices.
Our sustainability report will be at the heart of messaging this season, demonstrating to consumers, retailers and decision makers how homegrown is the better choice for health and for the environment.
We have two ambassadors, one of which is Raymond Blanc, back for a second year, championing the great taste and flavour of British apples and pears. We have case studies detailing all elements of production, from IPM to robotics, from one of the smallest growers in the association to one of the largest.
British apples and pears are going to be on as many TV sets as possible; from consumer to cooking shows, they will all feature homegrown fruit if we get our way. We have some great photography booked in too, gaining interest through showing the beauty of a British orchard.
Our social media strategy has input from both the ambassadors (including an Instagram take over live from an orchard), some great video, infographics, influencer content – essentially all driving hard to ensure that we maintain the current 55:1 return on the grower’s investment in the work of British Apples and Pears.