UK’s National Fruit Show to celebrate heroic growers

The Marden Fruit Show Society (MFSS) has expanded its team and unveiled a raft of new additions to this year’s National Fruit Show.
Wed 03/02/2021 by Richard Wilkinson
UK’s National Fruit Show to celebrate heroic growers

The 88th National Fruit Show will take place at the Kent Exhibition Centre in Detling, opening on 20th October, and will be a physical event, presenting the fresh produce industry with one of its first opportunities to meet in person since the start of the pandemic. It will stand as a celebration of the outstanding work of growers in keeping the nation fed, as well as a showcase for innovation and production excellence.

Following the expansion of the national reach of the ‘Love Cider’ Competition in 2020, this year’s show will include a wider range of products and an enhanced PR campaign to get the public to vote for their favourites. The contest highlights the importance of cider as a national favourite and encourages producers to interact directly with their fans on social media.

The evolution of the cider competition comes as the National Fruit Show develops its strategy towards its centenary show. That includes a focus on novel crops not traditionally grown in the UK, identifying new opportunities for producers in processing, alcohol and beyond, and helping growers find innovative ways to reduce crop wastage.

“This is a very exciting time for the industry, and we are expanding and evolving the show to reflect the opportunities facing British fruit growers today,” said MFSS executive chair Sarah Calcutt. “We want to help them fulfil the huge potential in the marketplace and boost consumption of fruit and fruit products across the country.”

To help with the expansion of the show, MFSS has strengthened its core team with a number of new appointments. As well as confirming Sarah Calcutt in the new position of executive chair, MFSS has named Laura Larkin as exhibition manager and Norma Tompsett as competition manager. There have also been additions to the trustee board, with Edward Newling of Newling Fruit Growers and Jonathan Blackman of Hutchinsons joining to represent the East and West Midlands respectively, and Claire Seymour of NP Seymour representing exhibitors on the board.

The new board appointments will be confirmed at the society’s AGM on 14 April, where the first-ever James Nicholls Lecture will be held in memory of the former chair of trade body English Apples & Pears, who died in 2009. The lecture aims to harness Nicholls’ ethos of collaboration, engagement and holistic thinking, and will see Professor Louise Manning, director of knowledge exchange at the Royal Agricultural University, discussing how the fruit industry can work together to make a positive impact on the nation’s health.

“James did a huge amount of work to effect change and raise the profile of the industry,” Calcutt explained. “A lot of people miss him, and we wanted to do something to remember him by and how he inspired change and made a difference. He was also a huge supporter of the National Fruit Show.”

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