The retailers have reintroduced its range of niche fruit products including an apricot and plum hybrid with sweet-like characteristics and Spanish grown grapes that taste like candy floss.
Asda fruit buyer Alberto Goldbacher highlights how the supermarket is stocking the unique varieties that are the result of long-term breeding programmes.
“We’re going through a really innovative phase of fruit growing where we’re able to naturally develop different varieties and bring something new and interesting for Asda customers to try,” he says.
“We’ve got a few different examples in stores at the moment, including our really popular Extra Special Candy Floss Seedless Grapes with a gorgeous sweet taste of vanilla candy floss; our delicious Doughnut Peaches, which taste like a regular peach but are named after their striking circular shape; and our juicy Grower’s Selection Flavour King plums with an incredible bubble gum flavour and a lovely red flesh.”
The pluot variety is 60% plum and 40% apricot, says the second generation fruit enthusiast and expert, who has worked in the industry for 31 years.
During this time, Goldbacher has seen many changes and the “quirky” fruit lines demonstrate the consumer-driven trend for different and exclusive varieties, he says.
“Words like “candy” and “bubble gum” are a really good way of describing the flavour. It’s so unique; the fruits have these candy-like sweet characteristics that stop you in your tracks.
“Customers are starting to recognise and ask for these varieties, and they’re proving a big hit. They’re really popular with kids and are a great way of getting them to eat more fruit.
“I took a punnet of the bubble gum plums (pluots) home and when you see the whole lot being devoured in seconds by the kids you know you’re onto something. But it’s not just children who love them –– we’re finding these new flavour profiles are appealing to all ages.
Shifting from niche to mainstream
Asda has previously stocked the so-called niche fruit and recently production increases have led to greater availability.
“There will be thousands of different varieties of grapes to work from and the breeders will take little aspects from all of them together. Breeding these plants takes years to perfect and only after successful trials can we start to increase production and extend their availability.
“That’s really what it’s all about – offering customers a choice of the best and most unique varieties and offering a healthy snack that children will want to try.
“We work with fruit growers around the world to source the new varieties of fruit like these. They (growers) naturally cross one flavour of grape with another, meticulously using soft brushes like the ones you use for makeup to cross the pollen from one plant to another.”
Currently sourced from Spain, Goldbacher adds how the candy floss grapes are also being grown in Italy, Brazil and Mexico, and increased volumes are expected throughout the year.
“Asda has people there (Spain) who’ll be visiting the vineyards with the grower and their team. They check that levels are right to get the right flavour profile and ensure that it meets all our specifications,” he adds.
“It will be packed into the punnet by the grower in Spain and then delivered to our depots in the UK. They can be in stores within four days.
“For me it has been exciting to see some new ‘niche’ varieties become mainstream varieties as they are grown in more volume across the world.”