Top/Stone Fruit Grower of the Year - Winner Mack in partnership with Charles Highwood

Cherry production is on the up again in the UK, but so too is the need to find something different for the retailer and their customers. Hence Mack together with its specialist cherry grower in Kent, Charles Highwood, decided to trial Rainier, a blush cherry variety known for its superb eating quality but only available as an air-freighted crop from places such as North America and Israel.

Top/Stone Fruit Grower of the Year - Winner Mack in partnership with Charles Highwood
Top/Stone Fruit Grower of the Year - Winner Mack in partnership with Charles Highwood

Blush varieties are typically difficult to grow, with crops at risk from a variety of threats. However, Mack and Charles came to the conclusion that if the Rainier variety was protected in the right way from rub marking, wind damage and bacterial canker, it had the potential to adapt to the British climate and grow successfully. Advice was sought from Rainier experts to implement the ideal growing conditions.

Protective covers and a comprehensive wire trellis system were installed, limiting branch movement and protecting the crops from inclement weather. At harvest the cherries are carefully nurtured and picked by growers who understand the need to treat the fruit carefully, delicately picking and delivering each cherry directly into the final product tray in the orchard.

Last summer, only 18 months after planting, Mack launched the first commercial volume into the Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference" range, supplying 100 per cent of its Rainier cherry supply for a few weeks.

The eating quality and appearance of this first batch has been stunning, far exceeding expectations. Feedback from Sainsbury's and its customers has been excellent. Both Mack and Charles Highwood are looking forward to supplying British Rainier cherries again in summer 2016.


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