A new variety of Israeli-bred white seedless grape - Early Sweet - is offering a stiff challenge to varieties from Mexico and Egypt on the UK market, said Amos Orr, UK manager for exporter Agrexco.

The berry is being grown in increasing quantities in the Negev desert and the Jordan valley. The season is about to get under way about a week earlier than expected due to excellent growing conditions. The first sea shipments should arrive here by mid May.

Orr said: "Early Sweet, which is available for the first five weeks of the season, has all but replaced Perlette. Three years ago Perlette represented all the early crop, but it is now down to 10%."