Lesson from Tesco ‘sweet lemons’ in the UK

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th January 2013

UK supermarket giant Tesco have announced the launch of a ‘sweet lemon’ in the UK.  Is there a lesson here for Australian fruit marketers?

These lemons are a product which has been very common in the US and Australia for the past 100 years but are now being re-launched as something new and extraordinary in the UK.

Tesco citrus fruit buyer Tim Battey said: “This fruit is a cook’s dream as it has all the zestiness of a lemon but with the sweetness of a tart orange instead of a harsh sting.”

Whilst quite common in Australian gardens, the sweet Meyer lemon is the first of its kind to be available in the UK, and is being described as having a “surprisingly bizarre taste, shape and hue”. The seeded, dark yellow fruit is being promoted for usage in thin slices “but can also be eaten like an orange”.  Its thin skin means “it can be consumed whole, peel, pith and pulp”.

“It is also very juicy and is perfect when used as an addition to sauces, dressing and vinaigrettes as well as in desserts. They can be sliced with their peel intact and are often used as an edible garnish for salads, entrees and desserts,” says the promotion.

Although it appears that some cultivation of the ‘sweet lemon’ tree is also sourced in the UK under protected conditions, it appears that supplies are being shipped in bulk from California to stock Tesco’s shelves.

The history of the Meyer lemon is also being used for the marketing of the fruit as an exotic fruit. The Meyer is native to China and was discovered by an employee of the US Department of Agriculture Frank Meyer, during his explorations across the country in the late nineteenth century. He imported the fruit into America in 1908 and “it has since become a popular cooking accessory, used in baking and also in cocktails to add an unusual flavour.”

Tesco said the ‘sweet lemons’ will be priced at £1.85 and sold in packs containing a minimum of four of the fruit. They will be available for sale in nearly 400 Tesco stores across the UK.

Meyer lemon