A European plum shortage has hit manufacturers of Fruit Machines in the UK.
"The UK is the number one exporter of fruit machines, one arm bandits and the like," said Jason Orange, former member of Take That and owner of Fruit Inc. "We export to the whole of Europe, Las Vegas and the middle East. Admittedly, we don't sell many in the Middle East, but we do export there."
Business was doing well, with gambling a known leisure time of those hit by the recession. However, a plum shortage has hit the fruit machine industry hard.
"A few years ago," said Orange, "there was a banana shortage. This saw us replace bananas with bars. There was nothing we could do. With each shortage of fruit that has hit the industry we have been forced to replace the fruit with something non-fruit based. When we replaced strawberries with diamonds, that cost us a lot of money, and when hearts replaced cherries, we were spending a lot of nights down the graveyard digging up the freshly dead. I'm glad nobody figured out where we getting all the hearts from."
Gamblers coped with the enforced changes, but the latest shortage is the final straw.
"Basically," said Orange, "plums are the last fruit on a fruit machine. If we replace this with spades or clubs, or some other kind of implement, we cannot possibly call them fruit machines. The trades description people have already been onto us."
Help for the beleaguered industry has come from an unlikely source:an inveterate gambler.
"If it takes a pound and has flashy lights on it," said Ian Veterate, "they can put pictures of Louie Spence and John Barrowman on there for all I care."
"That," said Orange. "Is a great idea. Trades description won't be able to complain, and the entertainment industry has an endless supply of fruits."