Andy Sadler, MD of Norman Collett, which exclusively markets the fruit for the UK branch of the European Cameo Club of 30 growers, said that good growing conditions meant there would be 800 tonnes available this season, compared with 350 tonnes last year.
More orchards are reaching maturity and new ones are still being planted, giving an overall potential of at least 1,600 tonnes by 2008. This would match Germany, but would still leave the UK behind France, the major
producer of the variety with an output of 4,500 tonnes a year.
Relatively speaking, Cameo volumes are still tiny: this year, for example, English growers are expected to produce 47,000 tonnes of Cox. But in taste trials it has performed well, and in the past five years the variety has attracted orders from Tesco, Somerfield, the Co-op, Budgens and Booths. This season, Sainsbury will join their ranks.
Cameo was discovered as a chance bicoloured seedling in an orchard in Washington State. It is believed to be a cross between Red and Golden Delicious. It is regarded as a mid-season apple with good storage potential and is introduced to the market between January and April, although Sadler said this period could be extended.
Sadler said he was keen to see Cameo sold at a premium at retail, priced at somewhere between Braeburn and Pink Lady fruit. “The object is to maintain a premium apple in the UK where everyone, starting with the grower, makes a profit to cover long-term investment.”
Retailers are poised to use promotional activity, including in-store tastings and shelf barkers, to boost sales.