BRITISH SHOPPERS bought a record-breaking £500m of sausages in 2004, equivalent to 18,720 tonnes.

The value of the market has grown 4.6% year-on-year, even though the number of consumers has remained fairly constant: some 90% of the population buys sausages.

The key to increasing value has been the trend towards premium sausages, which grabbed another 7% of the market last year.

The high end of the market now accounts for almost a third of sales, with “standard” quality sausages weighing in at 58%. Economy sausage sales were only worth £20m.

Chris Lucas of the British Pig Executive welcomed the finding, particularly because premium quality sausages tend to contain a bigger proportion of British meat.

“As long as we can maintain the premium trend, I can see sausages going from strength to strength,” he said.

“It‘s good for the British pig industry, because it gives us a strong market to supply, and if we see the premium market working well, then we see more going back to the farmers.”

Imports now account for over 50% of pigmeat sold in Britain, thanks to hefty 14% growth last year.

BPEX is spearheading a drive to educate consumers about the advantages of British pork, which is produced to higher welfare standards than some continental pig meat.