Marks & Spencer to sell micro pears from Brogdale Farm

A miniature pear variety that is part of the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale Farm has been commercially bred for the supermarket Marks & Spencer.

The variety, named Bambinella, has been dubbed the "micro pear" because it is just 25-35mm wide - the size of a large cherry.

It is traditionally grown around the Mediterranean Sea, mostly in Malta, and is one of 550 pear varieties grown at the farm in Faversham, Kent.

The pears were stocked in Marks & Spencer stores throughout the country this summer after the retailer identified the variety at a visit to the farm two years ago.

Tim Biddlecombe, managing director of the Farm Advisory Services Team at Brogdale, told Grower: "We look after the collection and, as part of trying to maximise its use, we have visits from various marketing groups and supermarkets.

"I realised that the potential in the pear collection was greater than that of the apple collection. The pear market is basically just Conference."

"We have 550 pear varieties here. When marketer Worldwide Fruit and Marks & Spencer visited us they said they were interested in mini fruit. At the time, they were developing a micro lemon the size of a 50-pence piece, so we identified Bambinella as a potential variety."

After this farm visit two summers ago, fruit from the orchard's two micro-pear trees was evaluated.

A graft from those two trees was then taken and some 200-300 trees were produced at a nursery in Holland.

The trees were planted 18 months ago - half of them at Brogdale and half of them at another farm in Kent - and they carried their first fruit this summer.

Worldwide Fruit in Whitstable has been responsible for distributing the small pears from Brogdale to the supermarket chain.

Target market Young families

Marks & Spencer pear specialist Shazad Rehman said the supermarket was targeting the young families market.

"At M&S, supporting British growers is at the heart of our business," he added.

"These micro pears are as delicious as they are eye-catching and will be a great way to easily convince your little ones to eat fruit. They have a really sweet flavour and crunchiness that is perfect for snacking."

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