Best of British

Inspired by the success of the recent London 2012 Olympic Games this year’s National Fruit Show aims to build on the resurgence of being proud to be British.

The Olympic and Paralympic games has reawakened a lost sense of pride in our achievements, out patriotism and most importantly a belief that we are able to hold our head high as a nation and revel in our ability to be the best. British fruit has been on a similar journey alongside our Olympians over the last few decades; the UK Fruit Industry has been overshadowed by the mighty campaign from ‘Le Crunch’, beaten to the supermarket shelves by Southern Hemisphere varieties and left behind by other European Countries who invested heavily in new breeding programs.

Not any more, British Fruit has become in its own way, ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ although a more fitting motto for the UK fruit industry would be ‘Better, Fresher, Tastier’. Innovations and the way fruit is grown in the UK have changed; the fruit produced now, can rival any other country.

The Top Fruit Industry has campaigned tirelessly to promote the fantastic apples and pears grown in the most globally efficient orchards here in Britain. Slowly the public is beginning to recognise this excellence. Perhaps what our Olympic sportsmen and women have allowed us to do is seek out that excellence in ourselves, and not be afraid to believe we are better.

New varieties such as Rubens, Jazz, Cameo, Zari and Kanzi, may well have been bred abroad but English growers have taken these varieties, planted them on British soil and improved the quality and taste.

The 2012 National Fruit Show will take place on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 October and is the showcase event for the industry. Sarah Calcutt, Chairman of the Marden Fruit Show Society said, “The National Fruit Show celebrates the best growers in the country and it is not unusual for the winners of each class to score above 97/100. We have a panel of around 40 judges who scrutinise every entry and mark on several important criteria to establish as near perfection as possible.”

The National Fruit Show competitions are open to all UK commercial fruit growers and have thirty classes for Top Fruit, Soft Fruit, Apple Juice and Nuts. The ‘Tastiest Apple’ and ‘Tastiest Tomato’ are judged by a smaller panel of experts tasked to find the best and the ‘Heaviest’ classes to find that rare record breaking fruit.

Industry and visitors are able to take advantage of the new online registration which can be accessed via the National Fruit Show website. The decision to keep entry to the event free has been popular with exhibitors who have been booking stands over the past few months.

Sarah Calcutt commented: “the Marden Fruit Show Society committee believes free entry to the show ensures good attendance from growers, managers and other businesses connected with fruit growing in the UK. Our exhibitors ensure that they are at the Show in October seeing it an opportunity to speak to their clients, talk to each other and more importantly establish trends, techniques and strategies for the next growing season.” The Society has been able to secure Professor David Hughes as the opening speaker at its first conference, he will be addressing fresh produce consumption trends and how we can find successful strategies to drive up consumption.

Maria Clarke, National Fruit Show Secretary, is pleased to report that bookings for stand space is ahead of previous years, with a high percentage new exhibitors joining us for the first time. An exciting new layout will be implemented for 2012 with room for eighty stands in the Kent Pavilion Exhibition Hall. The Trophy Stand, Soft Fruit and both ‘tastiest’ competitions will move from the Kent Pavilion into the John Hendry.

Entry to the Show will be via the John Hendry, which will also house a large Conference Area, free of charge marketing area for new innovation and product launches and a special Members lounge area with Wifi and coffee.

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