Is the modern consumer willing to give up year round apples?

Author: Peter West
9th September 2016

Over the past 50 years, the consumer has been educated by the retailers to expect year round apples produce regardless of the seasonality, weather and any factor that could have repercussions in the food supply. The issue at hand is broad and can be addressed in two different ways: sourcing only locally when the produce is “in-season”, or, sourcing both locally and internationally when the produce is “in-season”.

For this case we will focus on just in-season sourcing, not locally in-season. The reason for this is that many places just don’t have in-season of many basic products that would be considered almost crazy going through life without them (not an absolute). And UK is only one example of a big consumer of products that it does not produce.

Let’s use apples in the UK as an example. Locally in-season you would be able to get them from August until October fresh, and internationally in-season you would get them through another 3 month period from January to March. So, after the fresh season is over, whatever is left can be used for processing given that no storage of fresh is allowed for this case (if storage was allowed, it would not be consumption in-season).

This would of course benefit the environment by reducing the carbon footprint of those apples moved and stored. But, would you give up eating an apple out of season? Once again, subjectivity is the main issue to decide. Thinking of eating apples just during 6 months of the year might be unthinkable, but with a closer look, that’s not because we cannot make it, but because we were taught to have this fruit all year round. What about peaches, plums, cherries, pears?

Let’s use as example Argentina which is a big producer of these. You only get them during season for many reasons. For once, they don’t hold in storage for long time. Also, production not only in Argentina but across the world is not enough to hold year round supply. Not only in Argentina, but in most places we only make it for a couple of months every year with these delicious and “exotic” fruits. So, let’s think now if we could make it with apples only for 6 months of the year.

Regarding the previous point, a counter argument should be taken into consideration. If the world has year round apples right now, it means that during the season there is a big surplus of production that is then stored and supplied to the population throughout the rest of the year.

So in effect, maybe the fresh apples could be considered tastier given they have not been stored, however without the storage of apples, the food wastage might even sky rocket. Interesting how every point has a counter point. Could you imagine a situation where the consumer couldn’t buy apples in June? It’s obvious that the consumer has become accustomed to having a wide variety of food products available year round. Are we willing to make such a sacrifice in a world we know can provide anything, anywhere and at any time? There is no right or wrong answer.

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