Wild bird on more menus as Brits develop taste for speciality poultry

5 Dec 2011

Speciality birds such as wild guinea fowl and poussin have become the fastest growing meat on sale in the UK as more Brits seek roast dinner alternatives

Speciality birds such as wild guinea fowl and poussin have become the fastest growing meat on sale in the UK as more Brits seek roast dinner alternatives.

So strong is the current demand that Tesco, which has the UK’s most butcher counters, has seen demand soar by a staggering 100 per cent in the last six months. In that time the supermarket has doubled its sales of speciality poultry and has increased availability from 200 to 350 stores across Britain.

Sales peak from the end of November to New Year and highest demand in the last few years has come in Christmas week itself with increasing numbers of Brits buying guinea fowl, pheasant, partridge and goose as an alternative to turkey.

The trend is believed to be driven by the increasing use of game in recipes by celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Nigella Lawson, and Heston Blumenthal.

Tesco speciality poultry buyer Nick Hall said: “Wild bird had a reputation of being a meat that was the sole preserve of the country set but now this succulent and healthy food is finding favour with a growing number of Brits wanting something different for their roast dinners.

“While more adventurous Brits are buying wild bird like guinea fowl, pheasant and partridge as well as goose others are buying poussin.

“Even just five years ago we would only have sold these birds in a handful of stores, predominantly in countryside towns but now we are seeing strong and growing sales in more urban areas.

Demand is growing by the week at our stores right across Britain and is particularly strong in Christmas week, with sales last year rising by a further 25 per cent on an average week at that time.”

Guineafowl, tastes like a cross between chicken and pheasant and is a very lean meat, low in calories with good nutritional value. Poussin is a very young chicken that has been raised on selected grain to produce a tender and succulent taste. Partridge is a medium sized bird which has a subtle, delicate taste similar to chicken but with a stronger, gamier flavor. Pheasant is also similar in taste to chicken but is more succulent with a richer, more intense flavor.

Other game sold by Tesco include quail and venison.