Waitrose launches weather blemished apples to support storm hit South African farmers
Waitrose is to stock weather blemished apples from its South African farms following unexpectedly poor weather in the country which has superficially damaged 70% of farmers crops.
The apples, which will come in a mixed bag containing Royal Gala, Cripps Pink, Braeburn and Nicoter varieties, will be available in Waitrose shops from the end of May until late August.
Waitrose said unseasonal hail has affected the crops from its producers in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, meaning that the fruit has a damaged skin, but the apples’ flavour is unaffected.
A dramatic change in the weather, with unseasonal downpours and hailstorms caused flooding in many parts of the Western Cape resulting in massive crop losses. The greater Ceres area, which produces a third of the country’s pears and 28% of its apples, was affected, with the Witzenberg Valley being the worst hit by the hail. There were a further three storms in the preceding months, and an estimated 750 million individual fruits have been lost in the region.
Pieter Graaff, a farmer in South Africa's Witzenberg valley and a supplier to Waitrose for over ten years, lost approximately 75% of his fruit with hail marks to the skin. He said: "I’m overjoyed that Waitrose have offered me the opportunity to sell the fruit."
Waitrose began selling ‘ugly’ weather-damaged apples in 2011 when growers in the UK were left with damaged crops after severe frosts.
Greg Sehringer, Waitrose apple buyer, said: "We’re happy to be able to support not only our own farmers in the UK, but suppliers abroad who are occasionally hit hard by fluke weather. We are lucky that our customers are savvy enough to understand the unpredictability of farming and to trust that the fruit will be just as delicious, even if the apples don’t look as perfect as usual."
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