MUTTON was back on the menu last week as venues across the country took part in a campaign to promote the almost-forgotten meat.

A gala luncheon at the Ritz in London last Thursday was the highlight of Mutton Renaissance week, when guests, including farmers, chefs and meat trade representatives, tasted a variety of recipes.

The revival is being led by Prince Charles, who decided to act after hearing how little hill farmers were getting for their older ewes.

Speaking at the lunch, he said farmers faced enormous challenges, and one way to help was to develop markets for quality produce.

“I am told that what makes mutton so important is that many of our native breeds are best suited to its production,” said the Prince. “It is also a fact that most sheep farmers are in the upland or marginal areas and practically all are family farmers. It is absolutely essential that we do all that we can to protect them.”

The National Sheep Association and the Academy of Culinary Arts helped the campaign, and the English Beef and Lamb Executive and Meat Promotion Wales jointly funded it.

Several celebrity chefs are offering support, and butchers’ shops, speciality food retailers and restaurants promoted the product during the week.

Having established a strong interest in the trade, the next stage will be to get the public talking mutton, said a campaign spokeswoman.