Christmas orders for duck and goose are on the increase this Christmas, says Waitrose.

The supermarket has reported a 71% increase in Christmas orders for duck year on year so far. Orders for goose are also up, by 35%, far outstripping the growth of traditional Christmas fare such as turkey.

Waitrose is putting this rise in demand down to a growing number of shoppers looking for an alternative centrepiece for their festive dinner table. Frances Westerman, poultry buyer at Waitrose, said: “Customers are increasingly looking for a new taste experience and foods that pack more punch in terms of flavour.”

With their sweet, rich meat, duck and goose make a sumptuous change to Christmas staples such as turkey and chicken. This is because duck and goose have a natural marbling of fat, which helps keep the bird moist during roasting.

This follows a similar upbeat message given by Paul Kelly of Essex firm Kelly Turkeys at last month’s Anglian Turkey Association meeting that turkey will beat the credit crunch. Mr Kelly highlighted that during a financial crisis in the early 1990s, farmgate sales were barely affected. “It showed most people were not prepared to compromise the festive feast,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the main high street retailers would be increasing premium fresh turkey prices by 15% while there would be a 26% rise in beef and 33% in pork.

“This means ribs of beef will be retailing at about £15/kg, making turkey great value and handing turkey producers the chance to highlight that our turkeys are great value when compared with other meats.” He added that when the economy was going through a bad patch, fewer people ate out on Christmas Day, preferring to eat at home.