Retailers have reported sharp spikes in sales of cheaper cuts of British pork on the back of Jamie Oliver’s latest crusade and the deepening recession.

Waitrose said total pork sales rose 20% last weekend. Sales of pork belly joints were up 66% and pork shoulder joints 270% following Channel 4’s airing of Jamie Saves Our Bacon on Thursday 29 January.

Asda reported its highest-ever weekly sales of pork by volume last week, although this partially reflected in-store promotions, it said.

Independent butchers also experienced a significant increase in sales of pork over the weekend as a direct result of Oliver’s programme, said Norman Bagley, policy director at the Association of Indepen­dent Meat Suppliers.

Tesco, meanwhile, claimed that the worsening economic situation had boosted the popularity of pork hock, which it reintroduced last October for the first time since 1998.

Sales had recently doubled, it said, adding that sales of British shoulder steaks had increased 60% in the past six months and British shoulder joints 40% in the past few weeks.

“The economic downturn seems to be teaching the current generation what their grandparents already knew; a cheaper cut of pork does not mean a less tasty meal,” said David Stokes, senior buying manager at Tesco.

The Oliver programme had boosted sales, confirmed Waitrose. “It’s great that chefs such as Jamie Oliver are championing cheaper cuts – and proving that higher welfare doesn’t have to mean higher cost,” said Waitrose pork buyer Anna Lloyd.

The programme had been “well received and had produced a positive response”, added Bagley.

Pork suppliers said they hoped sales growth was sustainable in the long term. Bpex has produced special stickers to help supermarkets maximise pork sales. Displaying the Quality Standard mark for pork, they say ‘Inspired by Jamie’s latest TV programme, part of Channel 4’s food season’.