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Organic Green Orchards introduces first Ethical Trade Standard-certified apples

English apples certified with the Soil Association's new Ethical Trade Standard are expected to hit supermarket shelves for the first time this month.

Evesham-based Organic Farm Foods, one of the largest organic fresh produce suppliers in the UK, has certified its British-grown food the standard - which acknowledges that the firm's supply chain is "transparent".

It also acknowledges that the company provides good labour conditions for its staff and helps the communities local to its growers.

Apples from the firm's top fruit business, Organic Green Orchards, are the first food with the new certification to go on sale.

Joint managing director of Organic Farm Foods, which also imports organic fruit, Adam Wakeley told Grower: "The Ethical Trade Standard only ran this year as a complete standard and it's something we have kept our eye on.

"As an organic produce company we already have to work to certain standards which are governed by Sedex. When we looked at the Ethical Trade Standard we found that we were already 70 per cent of the way there. So we have tweaked the way we operate to get the standard.

"We've found that, while the Soil Association has launched the standard, there's as yet little infrastructure behind it so we targeted our UK efforts first of all so we can get an auditor easily and quickly."

He added: "We have always been very keen to link organics with ethics in what we do. We used to supply Fairtrade lines but found the premium needed for a product that is both organic and Fairtrade is prohibitive. However, we have always recognised that we need third-party accreditation to market the fruit as ethical."

Organic Green Orchards was created some two years ago by organic farmer and Organic Farm Foods major shareholder, Peter Kindersley - a former director of the Soil Association.

Wakeley said: "He was interested in producing organic apples for the UK. So we found the land, planted the trees, and this year is the first year the orchards have been certified as organic."

Kindersley ploughed some £1.3m into the new business to manufacture the firm's 32ha of apple orchards.

Organic Green Orchards has two of its own orchards and also sells fruit produced by some five growers in Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Varieties produced include Modi, Santana, Red Topaz, Russets, Lord Lambourne and Worcester.

Wakeley said: "We have a mixture. The apples are being picked now. The first fruit should be in Tesco this week. The plan is to have fruit in Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, Booths and Co-op.

"English is a big deal. This year we are sticking our toe in the water with only 50 per cent production. Next year we will be up to about 1,000 tonnes."

He added that Organic Green Orchards is hoping to put a flash (sticker) on the produce packs to inform customers that the fruit meets the Ethical Trade Standard.


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