South African plums are to be heavily promoted in the UK in a move that could open the way for a flurry of promotional activity on fruit from the country.

South Africa's 600 plum growers will launch a £300,000 promotional push during the January to March 2009 season, jointly funded by SA Tourism.

If successful, South African apple, pear, grape and citrus growers would be approached to encourage them to adopt a similar strategy, said Stefan Conradie, product manager for the South African stone and top-fruit industries.

South African plum sector representatives were in London last week finalising details with Sainsbury's, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.

It is expected the campaign will include the distribution of two million leaflets containing information on plums and tourism on pre-packed fruit punnets.

These will be identified by a logo featuring the national flag and the slogan 'South Africa: alive with possibility'. The theme will be incorporated on display material that will carry pictures of plums and images of the country.

Further support activities will include trolley posters, floor graphics, box talkers and tastings, using in-store events linked to PR announcements on local radio and consumer magazines.

The UK is South Africa's biggest market for plums, receiving about 2.7 million cartons, which is a third of the export crop, said Stuart Symington, chief executive of the South Africa Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum.

Following a substantial increase in plum plantings to match demand, the industry is aiming for a 10% year-on-year growth rate, Symington said.

The leading red, yellow and black varieties produced in South Africa include Sapphire, Laetitia, Songold, Angelino, Pioneer, Southern Belle and Flavour King, he added.