First scientific taste tests could have wider ramifications Supasweet heralds birth of a new English variety A blend of research and specialist grower skills has led to the discovery of a new trademarked mild white onion called Supasweet which is about to go on sale at Sainsbury and Safeway. It is the result of three and half years research, grant-aided through the Defra Hortlink programme to the tune of £625,000. In the long term, the variety could play a role in import substitution. The Allium and Brassica Centre, Kirton, Lincs co-ordinated the work of HRI Wellesbourne and Liverpool University together with a consortium of five producers who retain the marketing rights. These are Bedfordshire Growers, Moulton Bulb Company, part of the Oldershaw group, Rustler Produce, G's Marketing, and FB Parrish & Son. David O'Connor, director of the A&BC, estimates there are about 50 acres being grown which will provide some 400 tonnes of marketable quality. The variety is being sold loose and in specially moulded prepacks holding two 80-100mm bulbs. Supasweet is more difficult to grow than traditional brown skinned English onions, and has half the yield at 10 to 12 tonnes. It is also more delicate because it has a higher water content, thinner skin and has to be lifted by hand into boxes for further drying and storage. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the programme is that Liverpool University has been able to establish the first scientific categorisation of flavour and strength. Based on the Pyruvate reading, it not only proved that Supasweet was the mildest sweetest onion grown internationally, but many conventional trade beliefs were incorrect. O'Connor says: "Imports from Spain and Chile are often sold as mild onions, but have been shown to be very variable and on average actually stronger than UK produced varieties." {{FRESH PRODUCE }}