When children get to the bottom of their Christmas stockings next week, they could well find a clementine there rather than the traditional ­satsuma or orange.

Sales of clementines have soared by 14.3% - or £32.1m - in the past year to £256.9m on unit sales up 19.7% [Nielsen 52 w/e 11 October 2014]. Meanwhile, rival citrus fruits have declined, with satsumas down 14.3% to £67.3m, while oranges have fallen 11.7% to £131.1m.

Industry experts say clementines have benefited from being so convenient to eat - particularly when compared with mandarins, which have fallen 51.5% to £4.9m on unit sales down 52.9% [Nielsen].

“The growth in clementines and easy peelers is due to their convenience, eating consistency and being great for kids,” said Tesco fresh produce category director Kris Comerford.

He added clementines had also benefited from price deflation compared with other fruit. “This has given them greater shelf presence and promotional space at attractive price points.”

Other citrus was seen as less convenient than clementines, said Steve Rudge, head of procurement at fresh produce supplier Reynolds. “Mandarins appear to be losing popularity every year as they are notoriously difficult to peel, unlike clementines which are a genuine easy-peeler,” he said.

“In addition, through varietal development, the eating quality of clementines has improved significantly and some varieties really do offer a superior eating experience. The flavour of a satsuma does not compare.”

Rudge said he believed sales of oranges were also falling - particularly in foodservice - as they were seen as a messy fruit to peel and eat. “Conversely, we are seeing good growth on prepared fruit lines driven by consumer demand for convenience,” he added.