Traditional game meat is enjoying a popularity upturn, a retailer said today.
The backing of celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal is behind the trend, according to Waitrose.
Game sales at the food chain are up 24% year on year, with wood pigeon the star performer, up 80%.
The retailer has put grouse on sale in its London stores this year for the first time to meet demand.
Other birds in its game section include mallard, partridge and pheasant.
Waitrose game buyer Frances Westerman said: ‘Our customers have long told us that they want to try game but aren’t sure how best to cook it.
‘Now, with celebrity chefs championing game on television shows and in their restaurants, we are really seeing game moving from niche towards mass appeal.’
Game sales have quadrupled at the chain since it first started selling the meat in 2001, Waitrose said.
Rival retailer Sainsbury’s yesterday announced plans to put wood pigeon fillets on sale from this autumn in response to customer demand.
Whole partridge, pheasant breast fillets and packs of game casserole will also make a comeback at the supermarket chain.
Sainsbury’s turkey, duck and game buyer Ben Hills said: ‘Our customers are acquiring a real taste for game these days.
‘Not only is it lower in fat than other meats, but it also tastes fantastic, delivering a real unique and distinctive flavour.’
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