David Shapley
The first New Zealand Cox will be due in the UK the first week of April, marginally later than last year, said Worldwide Fruit chief executive Alastair Robertson.
This season total apple crops are some two million cartons lighter due to hail and frost damage in the flowering and growing period.
"We estimate the crop to pack out at about 16 million cartons," said Robertson. "The average size of fruit is also down, despite the fact the harvest came through better than we expected."
Cox will be followed by Gala at the end of April, and then Braeburn ­ New Zealand's most prolific variety, where damage has been most prevalent.
Robertson is still waiting to hear the crop prognosis for Jazz, the highly coloured new apple grown under licence and available from May. "We are expecting significantly more this year," he added. Despite the devolution of the NZ apple industry, Robertson says Worldwide Fruit will have up to 60% of UK sales.
n Meanwhile, on the UK growing scene, English Cameo, a Golden/Red Delicious hybrid, has been tipped a star by Andy Sadler, MD of Norman Collett which runs the marketing.
The trademarked variety, only in the second year of commercial production, has performed well in store and, with orchards still maturing, volumes are set to exceed the 150 tonnes picked this year from 26 sites.
Budgens has been selling six-packs, Somerfield has opted for single layer trays, and Tesco does a prepack with the slogan The secret's inside. Taste it.'
Sadler it might be possible to extend the marketing period outside the current January to mid March period.