The first British-bred Sunburst apples of the season will be on Waitrose shelves next week. The third commercial campaign for the pink-fleshed variety will feature the most consistent crop of apples to date, in terms of size, flavor profile and appearance.
The overall quality of the fruit, both internally and externally seems to improve with each season, according to the teams at NIAB EMR and Scion Fruits, who have collaborated to grow and market Sunburst in the UK.
Sunburst is a conventional cross between Gala, lesser‐known traditional garden variety Falstaff and the purple‐fleshed Pink Pearl. Scion Fruits Ltd Director Martin O’Sullivan said the flavor and appearance profiles of the fruit this year show continued progress in the orchard.
“Sunburst has already proven to be popular with consumers of all ages and pleasingly, it seems to particularly appeal to children,” O’Sullivan added. “Apple breeding is a long-term business and for Sunburst to meet its potential in the next 20 or 30 years, it really has to be a hit with the next generations of consumer, as well as the adults and children of today.
For an apple variety, the flesh of Sunburst is unusually high in anthocyanins, the same compounds linked to many health benefits that have led to other fruits being labeled superfoods. Its truly distinctive taste has left many experts at a loss in terms of tagging the fruit as similar to any other, but everyone is agreed that “tropical” fits the bill.
Scion Fruits Ltd has made a significant investment in bringing volume to market and an aggressive planting program will see volumes surge in seasons to come. O’Sullivan said: “Industry and consumer feedback has been excellent and we’ll be measuring again this year – based on what we’ve picked, we’d expect an even more positive response,” he explained.
“By 2024, we expect to have 200,000 trees in the ground in Europe. The eventual aim is to grow Sunburst around the world, so it can be provided to the consumer all year round.”
Mario Caccamo, Managing Director at NIAB EMR, said: “The objective at NIAB EMR is always to breed varieties that are good for consumers, good for growers and good for the environment. With Sunburst, we’ve definitely met all three of these objectives.”
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