The sausage renaissance continued during 2005 but at a slower pace than in previous years, data from the British Pig Executive have shown.

British shoppers spent 503m on sausages in the year to July 17, up 3m on the previous year, but overall consumption fell by more than 6000t, as consumers moved up-market to buy more premium bangers.

The category bucked the overall declining trend, with volumes up 4.5% overall, while sales of premium fresh sausages grew by 7.2%.

Mick Sloyan, chief executive at BPEX, said it was all good news for British farmers.

“More people are eating at the premium end of the market, which tends to be British pork, while sales at the discounted end fall.

The 6-7p/kg price premium enjoyed by British producers compared with the EU has undoubtedly been helped by the premium sausage market.”

And though butchers managed to increase their share of the loose sausage trade to nearly 72%, retailers are encroaching in the key fresh sausage area.

In terms of value, butchers saw sausage earnings slip by 1.4%, cutting 2m from the sector’s income.

The BPEX figures also showed that sausages are an increasingly popular dish when people eat out of the home, with 60% of those questioned partaking.

But to the advantage of British pig producers, diners are becoming more demanding and calling for information on ingredients and provenance.