Bubblegum plums, black apricots, cream carrots and purple potatoes may sound like ingredients Heston Blumenthal tests on adventurous diners at his Michelin-starred restaurants.

But these weird and wacky comestibles are among the dazzling array of strange fruit coming soon to a supermarket near you, if buyers at Marks and Spencer (M&S) know their onions.

Newly developed fruit and veg accounted for 15 percent of all sales of fresh produce at the UK retailer last year, which means finding the flavour of the month is serious business.

And in a bid to bag profitable, low-hanging varieties, M&S this week despatched its entire produce-buying team to Berlin for the city's Fruit Logistica exhibition, the world's largest trade fair of its kind.

A decade after tenderstem broccoli first hit supermarket shelves, buyers at Britain's biggest supermarkets are once more vying for the next big thing in matters leguminous.

One British seed developer received an award for creating a hybrid Brussels sprout, styled the "Flower Sprout", which crosses the humble green with a curly kale.

Steve Winterbottom, managing director of Tozer Seeds, based in Cobham, Surrey, said: "We felt Brussels sprouts needed a shot in the arm so we created a Brussels sprout programme, in which you keep crossing lines until you get a happy marriage."

And if these "Frankenstein fruits" don't give you pause for thought, their taste will surely be food for it. For they make for an assault on the taste buds as well as a feast for the eyes.

Foremost among the fantasy foods are the "Mayan Twilight" purple-striped potato; the "Crème de Lite" pale-cream carrot; the "Flavour King" bubblegum plum; the "Black Velvet Apricot", "Baby Lemon" and "Tiny Tangerine".

M&S fruit buyer Shazad Rehman told the Guardian: "Innovation is inherent in M&S's 129-year history. We need to know what varieties will be out in five years' time. We want to be first to have pretty much all of them."

The market has become a battleground for Britain's supermarkets desperate to cash in on the novelty fruit phenomenon, as it "gave customers excitement when they walk into a store", Rehman said.

Details remain a closely guarded industry secret. "It can take 10 years to develop, and it's expensive," he added.

Other recent fruiting successes include the "Papple", a pear-apple hybrid, along with the "Tutti Frutti", a mango-flavoured grape, and the bite-size "Mini-Kiwi".