A new era of british fruit growing begins with the return of the National Fruit Show, bringing growers, suppliers & buyers back together

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The committee of the Marden Fruit Show Society (MFSS) are delighted to be bringing the 88th National Fruit Show back as a live event at the Kent Event Centre in Detling on 20th & 21st October 2021.

Ever evolving, the show has a number of new features this year as MFSS Executive Chair Sarah Calcutt oversees a series of exciting changes to the structure, governance and content of the annual industry get together.

The 2021 show will be opened by the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food, Victoria Prentis MP (Cons, Banbury & North Oxfordshire), with NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw also in attendance. The Minister will meet growers throughout the morning and attend the Presidents’ Reception at midday, hosted by current MFSS President Teresa Wickham. The Minister will be accompanied by other key figures including representatives of POs and the new ELMS programme.

The MFSS committee take their sustainability obligations seriously, and in a move to boost its environmental footprint the event has moved away from plastic packaging and will instead be using recycled and recyclable paper pulp punnets and tray liners.

The show’s return is being enthusiastically welcomed by the industry as a marker of ‘business as usual’ returning. Calcutt said: “The National Fruit Show is a much-loved industry event that delivers a useful and important forum for growers. We are determined that its new features – including the conference forum, new speakers and industry-led advice and support – really answer growers’ urgent questions. These are unprecedented times and we are doing everything within our power to ensure that the voice, and needs, of growers are heard by those with decision-making responsibilities.”

The show dinner and dance concludes the first day and will once again take place together with the auction and industry Bonanza Prize.

Who’s exhibiting?

Currently some 90 exhibitors are booked to attend the show. The show team is delighted that many businesses who have supported the event for several decades have booked again, while there are also a great number of new sponsors and exhibitors attending for the first time. It’s great to be able to welcome international Institutions like MHA MacIntyre Hudson into the heart of the show, along with Azets, Harvest Green Developments and many more.

Following its debut at the show in 2019, The Hive returns to showcase new, entrepreneurial tech-led companies who are appearing for the first time. Companies announced so far in this space are:

Crop desk – described as a ‘Match.com’ for seasonal workers and farms, David Trehane will be on hand to explain how one of the leading recruitment apps can help your business.

OX Truck – how do you like the idea of a self-build and self-maintaining farm vehicle? You can configure your OX Truck as a flat-bed lorry, people carrier, or mobile workshop – come along and meet Emily, the brains behind the concept, and learn how a solar-powered, build-it-yourself vehicle could work for your business.

What’s new at the show?

  • On Day one there will be a new conference event in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, kindly sponsored by MHA MacIntyre Hudson. The event will see Master Fruiterer Laurence Olins chair a panel of speakers including PhD students and Nuffield scholars, with the session culminating with food policy expert Professor Tim Lang discussing the challenges of feeding Britain and the dichotomy of food and environmental policy.
  • A new competition – Britain’s Tastiest Pear – will be judged at the show alongside the existing favourite, Britain’s Tastiest Apple. Judges include Covent Garden Tenants’ Association Chair Gary Marshall, grower Peter Checkley, and John and Stuart Guest. A tray of the overall winner’s fruit will be included in the traditional basket presented to the Lord Mayor of London on 27th October at Mansion House, and the winner and their partner will also be invited guests of the Fruiterers at the lunch following the presentation. Samples of the winning entries will also be presented to her Majesty the Queen.
  • New awards for 2021 include the Jon Jones Prize, endowed by the team he used to lead at Richard Hochfeld. The winner will be an individual who has worked consistently for the benefit of the industry as a whole, someone who has both excelled at their day job but also gone above and beyond to ensure fairness in all that they do. Nominations have now closed for 2021, but we would like to build a list for the future. The second new award, which is open for nominations until 30th September, is the Ian Johnson Award for Practical Innovation. This seeks a solution that doesn’t involve an app, nor a computer ideally, but offers a farm-driven solution to a troublesome problem faced by many in the sector. Ian was a very practical man who liked no-nonsense solutions and this prize pays tribute to such innovation. Please send nominations to Sarah@nationalfruitshow.org.uk.


We have four very important businesses at the heart of our show support network – NP Seymour, Agrovista, UKCA and, new in 2021, Worldwide Fruit. Their teams will be standing by to answer your questions around new product launches, as well as show you the latest kit, demonstrations of new storage technology, talk about the latest innovations in crop management, or taste exciting apple or pear varieties. We are very proud of our four key sponsors, who are the embodiment of what the show is about: delivering excellence in knowledge for growers.

Love Cider Competition 2021

Ahead of the National Fruit Show’s live event, the Love Cider competition will take place again in September. Unlike the trade-focused show, Love Cider is a consumer-facing contest open to all cider lovers on the show’s social media channels. The chair of judges this year is well-known food broadcaster Nigel Barden, supported by drinks writer Melissa Cole and MFSS committee member Adrian Harris from NIAB EMR. The winners of the competition – which seeks to find the best ciders in three categories, Traditional, Blended and Pear/Perry – will be revealed at the show. In 2020, Kent Cider’s Yowler took the overall prize.

Something for everyone

For those wishing to top up their NRoSO and BASIS points, the BASIS team will be on hand at reception to record your details. The show will be packed with the latest and best in current fruit farming technology, all wrapped around one of the best days out in the industry calendar.

Don’t forget that the event is set to continue late into the night with the National Fruit Show dinner, a great night out with local seasonal food and music from industry band Bullshed (Nigel Jenner on drums is not to be missed!) The Bonanza Prize is also awarded at the dinner – a £10,000 solar installation courtesy of new partner Harvest Green Developments. So with dinner, dancing, an auction and prize giving it’s a great night out with friends and colleagues. Over 240 diners are attending this year, and there are a few seats still available so it’s not too late to book.

We are still in the age of Covid, and we are asking everyone to register their attendance on the show website. In line with government guidance, we will be supplying hand sanitiser at regular points around the show halls. We will leave mask wearing to visitors’ discretion, but will be monitoring current guidance to ensure that the event is as safe as possible for attendees.

We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone again. The industry has so much progress to share!


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