"Papples" have the texture of nashi pears but taste like European pears.
A New Zealand-grown pear that looks like an apple, dubbed the "papple", is causing a stir in Britain.
The new variety, developed by state-owned Plant and Food Research, went on sale at Marks and Spencers stores in Britain this week for a £1 (NZ$2.10) each.
A hybrid of Chinese and Japanese pear varieties, it is still too new to have a trademark name - but the British press has already labelled it the "papple" thanks to its apple-like shape.
Prevar chief executive Brett Ennis - whose company licenses the rights to grow, market, and sell the PremP109 pear variety - said there had been a lot of publicity. "It's almost gone viral."
But it was unlikely "papple" would become the trademark name, Dr Ennis said. "It's just a descriptor - it's not what we're intending calling this," he told APNZ. "I can understand why they might want to give it a name, because at the moment it doesn't have a name, and it's our intent to give it one."
The hybrid pears brought together the best elements of European, Japanese, and Chinese varieties to create "an entirely new pear class".
They have the same crisp, juicy texture as nashi pears but taste more like European pears, with sweeter and more complex flavours than Asian varieties.
Some of them were apple-shaped while others looked like grenades, with a bulge in the middle and tapered ends.
"They're compelling visually because of their shape, but also because of their skin colours, and also they don't scuff."
Dr Ennis said the pears were being grown on a small commercial planting of 4500 trees in the Motueka and Riwaka areas of the upper South Island.
This year is the second the pears will be exported to the Northern Hemisphere, but New Zealanders should not expect to sink their teeth into a "papple" any time soon.
"The demand and prices have not allowed the product to enter the local market at this stage," Dr Ennis said. Growers would be delighted with the prices the pear was fetching in the UK. Prevar was looking to establish other hybrid pear varieties in New Zealand and abroad.
Enza, which markets its own exclusive pipfruit varieties like the Jazz apple, said it was too soon to say whether it would launch a similar hybrid pear.
A spokesman for Enza parent company Turners and Growers said it would look at how the pears did in the UK market.
- APNZBy Matthew Backhouse @Mbackhouse Email Matthew