Tesco says it is the first multiple to get new season English apples on shelves.

The Discovery fruit, which hit shelves today, comes from two Kent farms and is being supplied by Norman Collett and Worldwide Fruit to a handful of Tesco stores in the county. It comes a full month earlier than in 2006.

Despite heavy rain and even hail, which has damaged some crops in recent weeks, the Tesco fruit has a good colour and aroma. The retailer is also planning to market hail-damaged apples in its Value range.

"Tesco has widened its specification for hail tolerance, which will allow more fruit to be provided for our customers," said Shaun Doherty, fruit and technical manager. "It will be identified with special labelling explaining the situation."

Tesco is repeating its successful Heritage range of apples, harvested from the National Collection at Brogdale. Some 400 varieties, including Worcester and Discovery, will be sold under the Heritage label.