Scottish Apple Producers (SAP)

Scottish Apple Producers (SAP) is a group of growers, aspiring growers, apple-minded people and farmers who have come together to:

  • promote the growing of apples in Scotland, re-establishing the sector as part of the Scottish food and drink industry
  • encourage consumers to eat and drink Scottish apples and products made from them
  • share best practice around farming and growing
  • share ideas and exchange knowledge and experience
  • collaborate for R&D purposes 
  • re-invigorate interest in commercial orchards of scale in Scotland

Since its establishment in 2019, SAP aims to reverse the decline of the sector, establishing it as a key alternative for growing fruit as part of a mixed farming approach, for farm diversification and as a biodiversity enhancer.

The work of SAP is designed to complement the work of Community and Heritage Orchards and aims to support the development of Scottish varieties that will adapt to the climate in Scotland.

There is also an ambition to develop a Scottish apple for Scottish consumers that can be enjoyed in our schools, hospitals, cafes, restaurants and shops. 

Scottish Apple Producers Group - Malus Scotch Dumpling

Growing Apples in Scotland Today

The number of orchards in Scotland is now steadily increasing. Like any farming, the different climatic and environmental conditions across Scotland deliver challenges and opportunities for those growing and there is much now to be learned about growing today compared to that of 200 years ago.

Traditional orchards are widespread in the English lowlands, but elsewhere in the UK they are scarce. In Scotland there is an estimated 131 ha of this habitat, with the greatest concentrations around the Tay Estuary, the Clyde Valley and parts of the Borders and Lothians. Successful apple growing in Scotland relies on the fruit being able to ripen at relatively low light levels and cool summer temperatures. The different climatic conditions from one end of Scotland to the other in terms of summer temperatures are as much as between Edinburgh and London.

There are a growing number of farmers investing in orchards who see the potential of growing fruit as part of a mixed farming approach, on farm diversification, agroforestry but also in developing scale and being able to sell the fruit on a commercial basis. The numbers whilst still small are growing and there is presence across Scotland where the growing conditions vary from place to place. 

There are two main types of apple being grown in Scotland – eating and cider varieties and there are around 40 Scottish varieties including Galloway Pippin, Bloody Ploughman, James Grieve and the Beauty of Moray.

Scottish Apple Producers Group - a young orchard


In the 19th century Scotland was well known for its apple growing. Over the centuries there have been more than 40 varieties of Scottish apple. Scottish grown apples had a reputation of being great to eat and cook with, as well as being beneficial to the environment and to wildlife. In the past, locally grown Scottish apples operated in shorter supply chains, usually meaning they didn’t spend much or any time in cold storage. The mid-19th century was the heyday for Scottish Orchards and with the arrival of the railways, fruit (and produce in general) could be more easily moved around which started to have an impact on Scottish grown apples.  

Apple growing in Scotland was a big industry up till around the late 19th century and apples from Scotland were shipped to many destinations but fell out of favour when refrigeration brought cheaper supplies from elsewhere. As a result of this fall in demand farmers grubbed up many orchards to make way for more profitable crops. Some of this was also driven by the economics with some of the old Scots apples having lower yields. The mechanisation of agriculture was also a contributory factor as was the movement from a mixed agricultural environment to a much simpler one (which was also simpler to manage and harvest). 

In the early 2000’s farmers and growers in Scotland began to take notice of the opportunity to diversify into growing top-fruit both from a commercial perspective but also from a bio-diversity interest. There are now a growing number of commercial enterprises growing apples and pears in all parts of Scotland. You can visit our map page to see where these growers are based.

As the number of commercial orchards in Scotland grow we see increased volumes of Scottish apples being used in the production of locally produced apple juices and ciders, some of which are available to buy across the UK. Some apples are sold as eating apples, others for home cooking purposes and some are used for making jams and condiments.

Community Orchards also have a big part to play in the neighbourhoods of Scotland, many of them providing eating apples for local communities as well as offering opportunities for people to come together and learn about growing.