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Supermarkets should stock local fruit, says farmer

A farmer has condemned supermarkets for not stocking local produce which is widely available across the county.

Fruit farmer Kevin Kay, of Bessborough Farm in Hernhill, says that there are more than five apple growers in Kent and a number of pack houses but some stores still choose to sell items cultivated hundreds of miles away.

One bag Mr Kay picked up in a Faversham supermarket this week was from Herefordshire – 200 miles from the town.

Farmer Kevin Kay at Bessborough Farm.
Farmer Kevin Kay at Bessborough Farm.

He said: “They seem to have little or no interest in local produce. All the supermarkets go on about sustainability, yet they’re driving thousands of miles across the country to deliver their fruit.

“There are at least five growers in Kent who could supply them and a number of pack houses so there is absolutely no excuse, it seems.

“Because of the weather we have had, there has also been a massive crop this year so there is no excuse not to use the local suppliers.

“It would surely save the supermarkets money and of course people like and appreciate local, fresher products, so it’s a win-win situation.”

Kevin Kay says that fruit sold in supermarkets should be from local producers.
Kevin Kay says that fruit sold in supermarkets should be from local producers.

Chief executive of English Apples and Pears Adrian Barlow said: “All of us in the industry are very, very keen to ensure wherever possible fruit that has been produced locally should be sold locally.

“People like it because it is food coming from a local supplier and it also cuts the distances suppliers are travelling.

“Having said that, the most important thing of all is that we have English produce and there has been a significant growth of English apples and pears being used on the market.

“English apples and pears in English supermarkets has increased by 79% since 2006.

“But one has to be realistic. One would like to avoid non local producers but it is impossible to avoid.

“It’s important there should be an emphasis on making sure fruit produced locally to a great extent is local but realistically this is always going to be a difficulty to achieve.”

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