VENISON sales have risen by more than 400 per cent over the past year.

According to the trade Journal, The Grocer, the growth is expected to continue as supermarkets introduce more venison products, including sausages, burgers and prepared dishes which use venison instead of beef, such as venison wellington.

Venison has been enjoying a rise in popularity in recent years, owing to the meat's lower fat content.

In many areas, this increased demand has led to a rise in the number of deer farms.

However, sales in the UK are still relatively low, totalling £6.4 million in the 12 months to the end of June, but this represents a 413 per cent rise on the £1.2 million sales for the previous 12 months, according to analyst Kantar.

The sudden surge is thought to have been caused by the promotion of its health qualities, taste and availability. And the horse meat scandal has led to consumers looking for alternative meats.

Leading supermarkets are bringing out new venison lines, including barbecue ranges and ready meals for people who may be put off by the idea of cooking with unfamiliar meat.