"Earliest ever" UK plums hit Waitrose shelves

Supermarket Waitrose says its new-season English plums are the earliest ever, two weeks ahead of usual, thanks to ideal growing conditions.

Image: Pixnio (CC0)
Image: Pixnio (CC0)

Waitrose fruit buyer Tim Stevens said: "Seeing a crop arrive two weeks early is a huge deal and shows just how good the weather has been for plums. You'd normally see changes of only a few days each season for any fruit, so two weeks is like two years in fruit farming."

He added: "British berries and cherries maybe the pin-up fruits at this time of year, but plums should get more love; they are a deliciously versatile choice."

The retailer, which has sourced plums from family-owned Castle Fruit Farms in Gloucestershire for 14 years, says this season has brought "near-perfect" growing conditions, with bright and warm days recently balanced with cooler evenings.

The same effect has already been observed this season in cherries and apricots.

Grower Michael Bentley explained that the earliest variety each year is the purple-skinned Herman, which "has a very small stone that falls easily away from the flesh, making it fussfree to eat".

Between July and September Waitrose will stock an additional four varieties of British plums: the early Opal, with red mottled skin and sweet flavour; Reeves Seedling, yellow-fleshed with a reddish purple finish; the traditional yellow/pink blushed Victoria and the late, dark purple Marjorie Seedling.

Waitrose said demand was expected to "rocket" as the start of the short UK season increasingly prompts a surge of customer interest in the fruit.

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