Sainsbury's has narrowly beaten Tesco to claim the title of the UK's biggest seller of English apples and pears even though it sold less homegrown top-fruit this season than a year ago.

The retailer sold 32,359 tonnes of English apples and pears between 25 July 2010 and 23 July 2011, compared with 34,465 tonnes the previous season. Tesco was close behind, selling 32,165 tonnes a large improvement on the 24,410 tonnes it sold a year ago.

Simon Twigger, director of fresh and frozen food, said Sainsbury's was "immensely proud" to have sold more English apples and pears than any other retailer this season.

Adrian Barlow of industry body English Apples and Pears, which published the figures, agreed Sainsbury's had put in a great performance but said he considered the results a "a dead heat" and that the difference between Tesco and Sainsbury's was "within the margin of error".