UK-grown melons and figs hit shelves for first time

Kent grower Newmafruit Farms has begun selling UK-grown melons locally. It expects a crop of 5,000 melons of the Magritte variety, a Cantelope/Charantais type, which has deep orange flesh and is relatively sweet with a Brix level of 14 per cent.

Managing director Tony Frankham told Grower: "Having seen the melon-growing trials at East Malling Research, we spotted an opportunity to use our polytunnels after our June-bearer crop, rather than leave them empty."

The company will later assess whether the idea is commercially viable on a larger scale. "If it can work on a season as late as this, it should work most seasons," said Frankham.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury's has become the first major supermarket to sell fresh British-grown figs, from Abbey View Produce near Waltham Abbey, Essex, which has a trial commercial plantation of 300 trees.

Sainsbury's exotic fruit technologist Sam Taylor said: "We're always looking for new ways to offer more great-tasting British products, and this is good for British farmers who want to diversify, as well as customers who look for UK-produced products."

The figs will initially be sold in 15 stores in Essex and London.

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