Volume sales of Sundowner branded apples - which are related to Pink Lady - increased by 40% year on year in the four weeks to mid August.
Intellectual property specialist Coregeo, which manages the licensing of Sundowner in the UK, as well as that for Pink Lady, said it expected growth to be maintained until the end of the southern hemisphere season in November.
Last year, 200,000 13kg cartons of Sundowner apples were sold in the UK. However, sales of the variety this year look poised to reach 280,000 cartons.
Coregeo managing director Andy Macdonald admitted that as the fruit became more popular, availability was an issue. “Unfortunately, at the
moment we are unable to offer 52-week supply. There’s a little bit towards the beginning of the year from the US, but the main export crop from South Africa, which is complemented by small volumes from Australia and Chile, only comes in from July to November.
“Increased planting is going on in South Africa to cope with demand. Also, there is more planting in France, but for now there are no export volumes from there. That will change in two to three years’ time when we’ll start to see the first major northern hemisphere export crop running from November till at least the New Year.”
Sundowner - generically Cripps Red - shares the same parentage as the Pink Lady, which is bred from Lady Williams and Golden Delicious.
Fans say the red/orange coloured fruit boasts a crisp, juicy texture and a sweet taste.
It is also hardy, according to Macdonald. “It’s resistant to bruising. And it offers a long shelf life, remaining at optimum eating quality for two weeks after purchase if refrigerated.”
Sundowner is on sale this year in branches of Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Somerfield and The Co-op.
Richard Clarke