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31 March, 2010

Waitrose exclusively presents Pineberries: set to be cream of the summer crop


Today Waitrose launches pineberries - a Alice in Wonderland-style fruit.

With British summer time officially here Waitrose believes this new berry, which displays characteristics of both strawberries and pineapples, will fly off the shelves.

Despite their extraordinary smell and taste similar to a pineapple, pineberries are still strawberries.

The tiny berries, which are white and covered in red pips, have the same genetic make-up as the common strawberry.

It is their fresh, juicy, sweet and acid flavour with a highly aromatic smell - more akin to a pineapple - that inspired the name ‘pineberries’.

Waitrose is the first supermarket to sell pineberries in the UK. They will be available in 45 stores nationwide for the next five weeks while they are in season.

Originating in South America, the pineberry started life as a wild variety of strawberry. It was threatened with extinction until seven years ago when Dutch farmers began growing it on a commercial level.

Each pineberry is smaller than a common strawberry measuring between 15 to 23 mm. They are grown in glasshouses, growing on coir like other strawberries.

They begin life as green berries, then become slightly white. By the time its deep laying seeds turn dark red this white fruit is ripe.

Each pineberry punnet will weigh 125g and for an introductory period will retail for£2.99 until 13th April 2010. Subsequently, the pineberry punnet will be £3.99.

Nicki Baggott, fruit buyer for Waitrose, says: “Pineberries offer our customers the chance to add a new fruit into their diet and the berries bright appearance can add an unusual decoration to sweet dishes.

"As the summer unfolds we won't be surprised to hear that our customers are inviting their friends over for pineberry pavlovas, punch or serving them up with yoghurt for a lighter alternative."

This is not the first time Waitrose has launched a new berry into the UK market. In 2008 Waitrose launched the successful Strasberry, which will also land in stores for a third time this spring.

The strasberry resembles a cross between a strawberry and a raspberry and is reputed to have a sweet and unique flavour. Strasberries will be on sale from April 7th 2010 and a 125g punnet will retail for £3.99.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

History of the Strawberry

Circa 1600, an English colonist introduced the North American Fragaria Virginiana to England.  These berries became known as “Scarlets”.  Slowly the plants spread into Europe and the berries continued to grow until approximately the 1900’s when the plants almost stopped completely producing fruit.  

In 1714 a French marine engineer brought 2 female Fragaria Chiloensis from Chile into France.  The plants produced very big berries which were white on the outside and just slightly pink on the sun side.  The only problem with the plants were that they required cross pollination.  The solution was found quickly and by planting one row of Scarlets and one row of Fragaria Chiloensis a good cross pollination was achieved.  

Around 1750, these spontaneous crosses provided a new variety.  The variety produced big white berries, which were very aromatic.  Named Fragaria Ananassa, the new variety became the base for all modern and commercial varieties.

In summary it was a wild strawberry plant originating from both North and South America, but cross-bred in Europe, became a successful berry worldwide.

Today, there is only one company in England selling the “ little Scarlet strawberry”, Wilkin & Sons Ltd (Tiptree), who use the berries in their very exclusive jams available at Waitrose.  

The “old Pineberry” is owned by breeder Hans de Jongh and commercialized by VitalBerry BV in Made, The Netherlands.  This very old variety takes us back to basics, giving a low yield per plant and smaller sized berries compared to modern strawberry varieties.  However, the berries are very aromatic and delicious!

The Waitrose pineberries are grown in the Netherlands.  They will be available in the following Waitrose branches:

1.         Holloway Rd

2.         King’s Rd

3.         John Barnes (Finchley Rd)

4.         Beaconsfield

5.         St Neots

6.         Richmond

7.         West Byfleet

8.         Maidenhead

9.         Bloomsbury

10.        Chichester

11.        Southend-on-Sea

12.        Marylebone High Street

13.        Putney

14.        Gloucester Rd

15.        South Woodford

16.        Twyford

17.        Weston Super Mare

18.        Menai Bridge

19.        JL Foodhall Oxford St

20.        Pontprennau

21.        Kenilworth

22.        Eldon Square

23.        Westfield

24.        Stamford

25.        JL Foodhall Bluewater

26.        Paddock Wood

27.        Saltash

28.        Sidmouth

29.        Cheltenham

30.        Canary Wharf

31.        Belgravia

32.        Tonbridge

33.        Wandsworth

34.        Newbury

35.        Kensington

36.        Fulham

37.        St Katharine Docks

38.        Sheffield

39.        Cheadle Hulme

40.        Balham

41.        Barbican

42.        Chiswick

43.        Clapham Junction

44.        Edgware Rd

45.        Islington

For more information contact:

Karla Graves
Communications Manager, Consumer
t:01344 82 5204
f:01344 82 5211
e: karla_graves@waitrose.co.uk