UK pear growers will soon be in a position to tap into the premium market for Sweet Sensation pears the pear market’s equivalent to Pink Lady apples for the first time.
AG Thames, a supplier of top fruit to the multiples, has invested £250,000 in creating the first UK orchard for Sweet Sensation in Kent, planting 19,000 trees across 5.75 hectares. The first UK-grown Sweet Sensation pears are expected to hit retailers’ shelves next year.
Sweet Sensation pears are the brand name for the Rode Doyenne van Doorn variety, which is similar in taste in quality to Doyenne du Cornice pears.
They have been sold in small quantities in the UK mults for several years, but have been imported from the Netherlands and Belgium.
The orchard would produce about 10 tonnes of fruit in autumn 2012, said AG Thames technical manager Francis Wheatley.
However, when it was in full growth in five years’ time it would produce about 200 tonnes, meeting most of the projected demand from UK retailers for Sweet Sensation.
Home-grown Sweet Sensations would appeal to retailers because they were a premium variant and had a lower carbon footprint than imported pears, he added. “They’ve been grown in Holland for the past eight years now,” Wheatley said.
“Obviously if we can grow in the UK, it stops imports. It is what the consumer wants they want English, and they want food security.”
AG Thames plans to market the brand in a similar way to Pink Lady, although Wheatley said it was too early to give details of precise plans.
Sweet Sensation is also grown in France, Italy and Argentina, and will soon be grown in South Africa.
AG Thames is growing the pears in East Malling, Kent, on land owned by the East Malling Trust, a horticultural funding charity. The company has plans to plant up to 100 hectares producing up to 4,000 tonnes of the fruit over the next 10 years.