English apples face a crunch threaten coxes

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The Independent Online
As many as half of Britain's apple farmers will go bust if the flood of cheap French apples goes unchecked, according to representatives of English apple sellers. Cut-price French apples, snubbed by Europe in protest at nuclear tests in the Pacific, have been dumped in Britain, undercutting native coxes.

Germany and Scandinavia are boycotting the French apples, forcing the perishable goods into Britain at rock bottom prices. Malcolm Schofield, managing director of the English Fruit Company, said: "Our market is being destabilised by a flood of French apples at ridiculously low prices which don't even cover the cost of production. They are dumping their apples on our market."

Mr Schofield, whose company represents more than half of English apple sellers, claims unwitting shoppers who would normally opt for a Cox are being lured by cut-price Golden Delicious apples.

"Customers over here just see French apples as good value for money. They don't realise that if this goes on much longer we could see half of the apple growers in this country go out of business," he said.

David Browning, chairman of English Apples and Pears Ltd, also claimed British shoppers were being set up as "fall guys". "The English Cox is the number one dessert apple and it will be the main casualty", he said.

Mr Schofield is spearheading a British apple invasion in Europe. On Saturday he met German importers in Cologne to persuade them to buy surplus British apples.