Cox pipped by Gala for top apple

Crisp and mouth-wateringly sharp, Cox's Orange Pippin has been the country's most popular apple for at least a century. But it has lost its crown to the blander, sweeter Gala apple, a more recent variety.

More than 22,000 tonnes of Gala apples, first imported from New Zealand in the Eighties, were sold in Britain's supermarkets last year, compared with 21,600 tonnes of Cox. The figures, from the trade body English Apples and Pears, were published by The Grocer magazine.

Industry analysts said it reflected a general appetite for increasingly sweet fare. Peas, tomatoes and beans are now being cultivated specifically to enhance sweetness. The gala is also easier to grow, more prolific and more resistant to disease.

Orchards have declined in size by 33 per cent since 1997.