Fruit Focus, the leading technical event for the UK fruit industry, was held online 9-10 September 2020 due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Fruit Focus was co-hosted by NIAB EMR and well attended in its socially distanced format. The online event brought together 1200 growers, agronomists and industry professionals from over 40 countries to discuss topics including policy, new technologies, product innovation, pest management, breeding and genetics.
The NFU Fruit Forum, a special programme within Fruit Focus 2020, covered policy updates and hands-on strategy to help growers deal with pressing issues such as Brexit and COVID-19. In addition, co-host NIAB EMR presented a full programme of research tours, technical webinars and demonstrations. To round the Fruit Focus 2020 programme, several leading technology and product providers presented their latest innovations in the Fruit Focus Innovation & Technology Series.
The NFU Fruit Forum entitled, “Brexit: 2021 labour and preparing for the end of the transition period,” discussed the latest situation for recruiting seasonal workers, implications for trade friction, and how horticultural businesses are preparing for 2021. This engaging webinar was presented by Ali Capper, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board Chairman; Tom Bradshaw, NFU Vice President and Nick von Westenholz, NFU Director of EU Exit and International Trade. “COVID-19: Lessons learned from the horticulture sector” presented by Chairperson Lee Abbey, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Chief Adviser; Ali Capper, NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board Chairman; Beverly Dixon, Group HR Director for G’s Fresh and Jimmy Davies, Director for Pro-Force addressed issues faced by the sector in recruiting workers, cost impacts, minimising the risks of an outbreak on farm and what to do if an outbreak is identified.
The NIAB EMR programme included virtual tours of the Strawberry & Raspberry WET Centres, Concept Pear Orchard, R&D Vineyard, The Produce Quality Centre and NIAB EMR’s Fruit Breeding Consortium. In addition, updates on key projects including the Digital Vineyard, UV Robots from Lumion, Bio4Safe & HortiBlueC and the Growing Kent & Medway Initiative were presented over the two days.
Ross Newham, NIAB EMR, Operations Director: “Fruit Focus has always been a focal point for the fruit sector – a great opportunity to see and hear about latest technological innovations that help drive the industry forward. NIAB EMR has been delighted to work with Fruit Focus organisers, Comexposium, to bring the industry together so successfully during this most challenging of years. We very much look forward to welcoming everyone back to East Malling for Fruit Focus 2021!”
Fruit Focus 2021 will be held 21 July at NIAB EMR in a combined live and digital format.
The NFU, NIAB EMR and Innovation & Technology webinars are available on demand and free of charge. The BASIS & NRoSO CPD Point Programme sponsored by Fargro is open for point applications until further notice. On demand webinars, CPD Points information, exhibitors and sponsors can be accessed at www.fruitfocus.co.uk