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Make way for the 'easy crunch' Kentish apple

Easy crunch could oust credit crunch from the headlines as a new Kentish apple goes on sale in Tesco stores across Britain.

Sales of the Rubens, nicknamed the "easy crunch" apple because of a texture that allows chunks of flesh to come away without having to bite too hard, are poised to soar after this month’s launch.

Rubens is the first bi-coloured apple to be commercially grown in this country this century, and is poised give a further boost to the Kent apple industry.

Strong sales will mean a windfall for Nigel Bardsley, the Staplehurst grower who brought it to the UK from Italy and owns the sole UK licensing rights.

Mr Bardsley has planted 12,000 trees in his own orchards and joins several other growers, including Sarah Neaves of Doddington, near Sittingbourne, hoping that Rubens will become a national best-seller over the next few years.

The Rubens was developed in Italy within the last six years and is already selling well in Belgium and Holland.

"I was looking for another red apple as everyone likes Gala and this is a cross between an Elstar and a Gala," said Mr Bardsley. "I thought it was an ideal match. We got some trial trees over and found they grew very well in Kent and better than they do in Italy."

He forecast good tonnages that will enable growers to sell at a competitive price and achieve a bigger margin. He expects Rubens to become a classic apple as well-known as Gala, Braeburn and the more recent Jazz variety.

His message to consumers: "Go out and try it. It’s a fantastic eating apple."

Tesco apple buyer David Croxson said: "People may be talking about the credit crunch but when they bite into one of these all the talk – at least for fruit lovers - will be of the Rubens’ amazing easy crunch.

"When you bite into one chunks of flesh simply come away easily making it nearer to a pear than an apple in texture. We think this will it popular with older people especially."

About 100,000 Rubens trees have been planted in Kent so far, with a further 40,000 being planted this autumn. Distribution company Norman Collett, based in Paddock Wood, will supply Tesco. It already supplies around a fifth of all home-grown apples and pears sold through British supermarkets.

Tesco will start selling Rubens in its stores from mid-November. A bag of six to seven apples will cost £1.69.

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