Asda has claimed poor August weather had people tucking into hearty winter meals rather than summer barbecues, provoking indignation at the National Barbecue Association.

Asda said sales of barbecue meats were 40% down on last year by volume, and salads were 10% down. The retailer also claimed mince, often used in stews, had sold in record volumes and that sales of custard and rice pudding were up 70% and 52% respectively .

“We’re seeing shopping patterns that usually don’t happen until the cooler months set in. Things like salad and barbecue items are not selling as well,” said Allison Darling from Asda.

However, Brian George, president of the National Barbecue Association, insisted that despite the frequent downpours more Brits than ever were taking to the garden, tongs in hand.

“While August has been wet in part, the number of barbecues for this year is predicted to be more than 110 million, which will once again make us the biggest BBQ nation in Europe.

“Indeed, over the August Bank Holiday it is estimated there were five million barbecues. Asda’s comments are not really surprising, given it didn’t really have a BBQ focus this year.”

Morrisons said it had also seen a rise in sales in autumn food such as roasting joints and puddings, but said it would be promoting barbecue lines and ice cream this weekend because of the predicted warmer weather.