Kent grower scoops gong for Cameo work

Kent-based grower Melvyn Newman has received the European Cameo Award for his efforts to promote and develop the variety.

Newman is also Europe's largest Cameo grower, with 25.2ha on Howfield Farm in Chartham, near Canterbury.

English Apples & Pears chief executive Adrian Barlow said that Newman has been at the forefront in extending the English Cameo season and developing an import trade.

"We believe that it's very important to get Cameo on to supermarket shelves for as close to 12 months of the year as possible," he added. "Melvyn is very keen to achieve this with the help of southern-hemisphere fruit, particularly South African."

The presentation was made at the European Cameo Club's annual general meeting at East Malling Research, where delegates decided to back a publicity campaign for the variety, run by a France-based international PR company.

The campaign is aimed at making consumers more aware of the Cameo name, its very good eating quality and the fact that it has the highest antioxidant content of any commercial dessert apple variety - something discovered by researchers at Germany's Bonn university.

"We had to decide where we wanted to go with the variety," said Barlow. "Standing still is not an option as other good varieties will come along and will be very competitive. Supermarket shelf space is limited. If a variety is not kept at the forefront, it will be delisted.

"We know that only a minority of consumers are aware of the Cameo name and it will take time to get it better known.

"But you've also got to have enough produce available for them to buy. To an extent it's a chicken and egg situation," he said.

To help ensure that more Cameo is available as consumers respond to the PR campaign, efforts are being made to persuade existing growers to plant more and get others to come on board, said Barlow. Making the variety available year-round will help. He expects the first South African supplies to be imported this summer.

Sales of the 1,500-tonne English crop have gone well, Barlow added, with most supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Somerfield, Budgens and the Co-operative, stocking it.

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