“Why do they do it then” came the question from a non farming friend. We were talking about why perhaps buying heavily discounted milk in the pound shop probably wasn’t going to do much for her ability to have British milk in the future.

“Why do something that doesn’t make them any money – they should stop,” came the next statement and isn’t that the eternal conundrum for farmers? For someone that has no connection to food production, I guess it must be very hard to understand the plethora of reasons why farming companies hang on in there when times are very hard, why a purchasing strategy by a retailer may only meet the needs of the consumer in the short term, why import pressures now will be different in a few years and how, actually, nothing can stop and start just like that.

As you will see elsewhere in this edition, I’ve been doing some homework on Brexit in preparation for the debate at Agri-Expo. Just when I thought I was coming to a conclusion, something else popped up that made sense in the opposite direction.

Looking at the conversation above, in or out of the European Union, milk prices will change – if we don’t have European milk then the market place is less crowded, but our producers must have sustainability in returns. All food sectors must, and our biggest challenge is getting consumers to understand the value of food. And look at top fruit, with a trade deal signed last week between six European countries and the United States for the export of apples: there is a lot of speculation as to how much impact this will have on the availability of continental fruit to our increasingly unattractive marketplace.

The end of an era

Described in the produce trade press as a titan, the news has broken about the planned retirement of Adrian Barlow, chief executive of English Apples and Pears. A titan indeed. Charged for the last 25 years with being the chief messenger of the UK industry, his tenure has seen the greatest revolution in home grown hard fruit our industry has ever seen. Also wearing the hats of dessert and Bramley campaign leader he has been our man, out there, engaging with the press, the consumer, the retailer, the grower and the politician.

He took up the mantle of leading the Bramley campaign and ran with it. Isn’t there an enormous difference now in the way that apple pie, sauce and many quality products now have the Bramley prefix applied to them? The dessert campaign is enjoying a resurgence and engagement with the consumer is current, accessible and above all delivering a return on the extra investment made by growers.

On farm Investment has seen quality, varietal spread and above all volume rise dramatically in recent times. There is a lot of pressure to increase the market place and this is being met head on. Good working relationships with the retailers supports the good work of the marketing desks. You can see where I am going with this can’t you? He has done good, he deserves a lot of praise for his hard work and dedication. The fruit show last night proposed that we campaign for a gong for him. Don’t you agree?