The drive will include a launch day, pop-up store and press event, supported by point-of-sale advertising and social media activity. PBUK speaks exclusively with EAP chief executive Steven Munday to get the lowdown.
In the past, EAP has coordinated two independent promotional initiatives; the Bramley Apple Campaign alongside its ‘Love English Apples’ drive for dessert apples, both of which were funded separately and run by different agencies.
While they were successful, the trade association felt its efforts lacked a brand and an official apple day. This season that will change, as the newly-appointed marketing agency Richmond & Towers rolls out a brand-new overarching marketing campaign under the Great British Apples banner.
“This is built around a number of key areas, including: provenance, quality, flavour, snacking or eating on-the-go and the ability to link all of this with an event,” explains Munday.
“The campaign kicks off with a season launch on 19 October at the Great British Apples store –– a pop-up store complete with an apple variety bar that will be open for two days at the Ice Tank in London.
“Alongside that, EAP has created a new date for everyone’s diary –– Great British Apples Day on October 20. We are also in the process of relaunching the Love English Apples website,” he adds.
Previously there have been a number of so-called ‘Apple Days’ or ‘Bramley Apple Days’ in the UK, although Munday points out that none were owned or coordinated by EAP itself.
“We wanted a focal point every single year in relation to the season. We also wanted that to be on a date when most of the UK’s 20-odd commercially grown varieties are available.
“EAP has always started its activities in September and while we’ll still have a season launch around that time, the main launch this year will be 19-20 October.”
To maintain momentum throughout the season and continue to link the new brand with the campaign, EAP plans to jointly coordinate point-of-sale (POS) activities with mainstream UK retailers.
“In the past we’ve had no brand – only the different varieties have appeared on packs in various supermarkets,” Munday continues.
“The idea of the new Great British Apples brand is to differentiate the apples grown in this country from those produced elsewhere, which is a very important fact to stress.”
While the majority of the UK’s apple crop is grown in England, he points outs that the consumer is the British public and EAP’s customer is the supermarket sector, which traditionally uses ‘British’ branding in relation to fresh produce.
“Effectively we faced a situation whereby if we wanted to promote our apples in store we would have to do something [branding-wise] in line with the multiples,” Munday reveals.
“This season for the first time we’d like to link our branding with regards to what consumers see in store at a POS level. We’re still in negotiations but we hope a number of retailers will support us.”
Modernising the association
In addition to the new brand, EAP has undergone a series of changes since Munday took the helm last summer. This includes a tightening of governance, a strengthening of the board and the outsourcing of back office systems to British Growers Association.
In July, EAP also moved office to BGA House in Lincolnshire. Prior to that, three new directors were appointed for 2017/18 – Chris Browning, Philip Hermon and James Simpson. Fourayes managing director Phil Acock remains chairman.
“The directors have brought a new blend of skills and experience to the board which is only going to pay dividends in the future,” adds Munday.
“James comes from a grower background and is the managing director of Adrian Scripps. Philip is a trained accountant, and Chris is the chairman of Avalon Growers Producer Organisation.
“We have a new blend of skills and contacts at a time of influence, particularly in relation to the challenges surrounding access to seasonal labour and the future of producer organisations. Now is an important time to make use of our contacts and to lobby on behalf of the sector.”
Munday adds that EAP is also working very closely with the National Farmers’ Union and other interested parties. “We recognise the importance of working together, particularly on issues that affect us all,” he says. “Together we can deliver a much more powerful message.”
Frost impact this season
According to the World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA), this season’s UK apple crop will fall by 25% against last year to 137,000 tonnes, which is down by 24% on the 2014-2016 average.
“EAP estimates a 20% shortfall for apples,” clarifies Munday. “It’s primarily due to very late frosts in early April when temperatures fell below zero, which came as a great surprise for that time of year.”
Munday says growers were affected mainly in east Kent, although not every single producer was hit, nor all of their orchards or varieties.
EAP will not know the full impact until October, although it believes Cox and Bramley may be more affected than Braeburn and Gala. Quality is still looking good, and EAP predicts no issues with skin finish, taste or sweetness.
“It’s disappointing, particularly after seven years of continual volume growth,” admits Munday. “There will be a lot of larger fruit, and it could be a slightly shorter season, for some varieties at least. But last season Tesco stocked British apples for 52 weeks of the year and I’m hoping they’ll still be able to do that.”