The English apple and pear season has got off to a strong start, with volume sales in the retailers up 30% on this time last year.

As of 1 October, 15,700 tonnes of English apples and pears had been sold in the multiples, up from 12,060 last year.

This was partly because the English season had started earlier than usual this year, but also because English top fruit had received particularly good support from the supermarkets this year, said Adrian Barlow of industry association English Apples and Pears.

Sainsbury's in particular had put in a "stunning" performance, Barlow said, selling 4,990 tonnes of English apples and pears compared with 2,845 tonnes this time last ­season.

"Some of the others have been slower to switch from southern hemisphere to English fruit, but we are ­expecting them to catch up soon," Barlow added.