Tesco has lauded its British credentials after overtaking Sainsbury's as the UK's biggest seller of homegrown apples and pears.

Tesco has sold 31,408 tonnes of its British-grown fruit this season 35.4% more than in 2009-2010, while Sainsbury's has sold 31,325 tonnes 7.8% fewer [English Apples and Pears 2010/2011].

Tesco attributed the turnaround to its work with growers and packers to revitalise the apple and pear industry.

"Our customers tell us they want homegrown apples and pears and they proved that in the last year after we raised our intake volume of the UK crop, which was eagerly snapped up," said Tesco fruit category director Nick Tatum.

Over the past year, Tesco has launched four new ­apple varieties: Sonya, Evelina, Opal and Piroutte.

The news will be a blow to Sainsbury's, whose sourcing is increasingly coming under the spotlight. In March, The Grocer revealed that Sainsbury's was selling French and Spanish cauliflower under signs claiming they were '100% British'.

Last year, it sold 33,969 tonnes of fruit compared with Tesco's 23,188. A Sainsbury's spokesman said: "We led the way on British apples and pears for a number of years."

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Saturday Essay: Let’s celebrate the traditional English apple (30 April 2011)