Growers are pinning their hopes on Jazz becoming a mainstream apple variety in the next three years.

Growers in Britain and New Zealand have increased plantings in an attempt to attract more shoppers and triple sales, according to marketer Worldwide Fruit. Jazz will continue to be priced at the premium end of the market.

Imported volumes arrive from New Zealand and reach supermarket shelves in the next few weeks, replacing the northern hemisphere crop.

UK retail sales of Jazz - a cross between Royal Gala and Braeburn - are currently worth £12m.

The variety is stocked year-round in Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, M&S and the Co-op.

The apples are sourced from the UK, France and the US during the northern hemisphere season and New Zealand during the southern. A commercial crop was grown in the UK for the first time last year.

Higher volumes coming into stores will be promoted by consumer tastings at shows such as Taste of London and the BBC Good Food Show.

Marketers preferred this approach to in-store activity as it had been effective at driving sales over the past 18 months and was more cost-efficient, said Gary Harrison, commercial manager at Worldwide Fruit.

PR activity this year will include regional newspapers, radio and TV, while extreme sportsman Tim Emmett features in publicity material. New recipes are also being introduced.

Jazz, which is regarded as a good eating apple with consistent quality, has been touted as the next rising star in apples, competing with Pink Lady in the premium sector. Its higher retail price gave growers a better return and more opportunity to invest, said Harrison.

Growers liked Jazz because the fruit was resilient in bad weather, which also led to 'exceptional' quality, Harrison added.