On the eve of the National Fruit Show in Kent, regarded as one of the highlights of the season, Tesco confirmed that its apple sales have already increased by 50%.

Martin de la Fuente, senior fruit buying manager, said: "The season has got off to a good start, with a significant improvement in growers' returns."

As English Gala is being harvested, to be followed by Braeburn, he added: "We cannot get enough. English growers have shown that they can produce a high-quality item to compete with European winter sources."

Tesco will also sell more of two exclusive varieties, Kanzi and Greenstar, grown under licence by Adrian Scripps.