Supermarkets have reported a bumper Christmas this year for their premium fresh meat ranges, where sales have more than doubled on some lines to total 60m.

Tesco told Farmers Weekly that demand for British-produced meats like its Finest gammon was up 58% on the year, while Finest beef had seen a similarly impressive growth in sales.

Sainsbury’s reported that sales of its Taste the Difference meat range were up 12%.

Tesco commercial director Steve Murrells said it was good news for the British farmers that produce the meat, and he urged more producers to aim for the premium end of the market.

“The trend for premium foods sourced in the UK is set to continue well into 2006 and beyond as customers become more and more interested in provenance.

“The record growth we’ve seen over Christmas on Finest is great news for those farmers who supply premium products.

It means they are ideally placed to benefit from areas which are in the highest growth.”

The Meat and Livestock Commission hailed the rise in premium sales, but pointed out that they were starting from a low base.

In the year to mid-September, the MLC said sales of Tesco’s Finest had risen threefold to 14m. Sainsbury’s sales were estimated at 37m.