Half a billion apples left rotting in fields as cider sales go flat

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Half a billion apples used for making cider will be left rotting in fields this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brits slurp two-fifths of the global supply of the booze but demand has slumped in pubs and restaurants as people stay home.

UK drinkers are now guzzling half a million fewer litres per week, market research firm Nielsen found.

It comes as pubs were dealt another blow from PM Boris Johnson last night as he announced hospitality venues will have to shut up shop by 10pm.

Now farmers are hard-pressed to find an alternative use for their crops and say their efforts will go to waste this year.

Cider apple grower Ali Capper, from Worcestershire, says it is a "very, very difficult year".

She said: "I would estimate that about two billion cider apples are grown in the UK each year and about a quarter of the national crop will go to waste this year."

The crisis is the same situation for hop growers because of the reduced demand for beer.

Some farmers could go bust and others might streamline their production meaning that the price of your cider next year could be ramped up in what is called the "bullwhip effect".

If demand shoots up but there is not enough supply then shortages and price spikes will follow.

  • PM warns army could be deployed to enforce coronavirus rules in England

Farmers are now pinning their hopes on next year's harvest.

Mark Hopper, of the National Association of Cider Makers, added: "Cider makers are optimistic that this is a one year issue only and we are actively talking to local MPs and ministers to try and find a solution."

John Milton, who owns five cider orchards across Somerset and Devon, fears more than a third of his apple crop will go to waste this year.

He said: "As we speak now I hope I'd be able to sell between 60-70%. The remainder will be left in the orchards to rot I'm afraid."

Neil Parish MP has asked Environment Secretary George Eustace for short-term financial aid for apple growers.

The representative for Tiverton and Honiton said: "I asked whether there's a scheme where we can help those growers keep those orchards in place for another year."

  • Boris Johnson
  • Pubs

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