Originally published 17 December 2021
This article was updated to reflect changes in relation to the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UK FTA).

Pink Lady: getting to the core of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement

‘APAL is the peak industry body for Australia’s apple and pear growers and owner of the Pink Lady® brand. We take a brand, build global master licensees, and develop profits that flow back to the regions.’ Philip Turnbull, CEO, APAL

From little things, big things do grow. Just ask Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (APAL). The peak body has taken a Western Australian apple cultivar and turned it into one of the world’s leading fresh produce brands, Pink Lady®.

APAL supports 500 apple and pear growers in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland to grow the best produce in the world. It provides expertise and experience to enhance productivity, quality and profitability. 

The Pink Lady® global production and trade network produces around 336,000MT of fruit under licence across 13 countries, including the orchards of Kent, UK. 

‘Since working with master licensee, Coregeo UK, now a wholly owned marketing subsidiary of APAL, the Pink Lady® apple has become one of the world’s, and the UK’s, biggest fresh produce brands,’ says APAL Chief Executive Officer Philip Turnbull.

‘The exciting thing about our Pink Lady® story is that it bucked the UK trend in the pandemic and achieved close to 20% growth. It passed 80 million kilograms for the full year for the first time to increase market share to 21% in 2021, outstripping market growth of 4%,’ he says. 

‘We are equally enthusiastic about exporting our products to the UK and supporting the growth of local producers. We fully acknowledge the significance of UK producers expanding and promoting their own apple crops. Therefore, we have approved a planting initiative consisting of over 300,000 trees, which commenced in 2019.’ 

The best trade is well-balanced

That’s where the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Austrade come in. 

APAL worked closely with the Australian Government to ensure the Australia-UK FTA would support both nations’ growers. 

‘The reality is our 2 different hemispheres have opposite growing seasons,’ says Turnbull. ‘By 2030, we expect to see 3 million kilos of Pink Lady® apples grown in the UK. These are destined for the UK and Gulf States markets. To meet the UK and European counter-seasonal appetite for Pink Lady®, we are looking to boost our Australian exports. 

‘This will ease any fears UK growers may have of being flooded by fresh fruit and vegetables from Australia. 

‘It’s a quid pro quo equation to the mutual benefit of all parties,’ he says. ‘Lowering the import tariffs through the FTA is pivotal.’

Pink Lady apples in an orchard

Creating the ‘WOW’ factor 

The Pink Lady® story started in 1973 when John Cripps developed the original variety, Cripps Pink. This variety is a cross between the Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apples. By 1992, the first shipment of this different tasting apple was sent to the UK. The Pink Lady® trademark was also registered. 

By 1998, the heart-shaped Pink Lady® logo was designed, registered and transferred from the then Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to APAL. 

From there, its journey to become a consumer favourite and the biggest fresh produce brand in the world began. By 2018, Pink Lady® had an estimated US$1.3 billion (A$1.77 billion) in global retail sales. 

The Pink Lady® sub brands in the UK include PinKids®, apple crisps, pressed juices, sliced and vacuum-packed snacks.

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