Demand for UK pears has hit record levels as drinkers continue to develop a thirst for cider made using the fruit.

Off-trade sales of pear cider have surged from just £3.4m two years ago to £46m, according to Nielsen data.

Tesco beer and cider buyer Ian Targett said pear cider had “enjoyed a Cinderella-like transformation to become the biggest success story of the UK drinks industry”.

“It’s an amazing turnaround from just three years ago when only the bravest of major retailers, pubs and bars would stock it,” he said.

“For decades cider suffered from a downmarket image but people are now discovering there’s an amazing variety of flavours depending on what apples are used. As with ale, people are starting to match ciders with dishes just as they do with wine.”