Prince Charles officially kicked off the mutton season yesterday (Friday) by calling on multiples, independent retailers and butchers to stock the meat.

The Prince's Mutton Renaissance campaign, which aims to preserve traditional upland landscapes by rebuilding the market for older sheep meat, is now in its third year.

Research carried out in December 2006 indicated that mutton sales through mail order schemes, farm shops and farmers markets exceeded £2m last year, accounting for some 34,000 animals, and campaigners are predicting strong double-digit growth this year.

"We hope the launch of the Mutton Renaissance season will spur some interest from retailers," said Prince Charles.

"Until now there have just been isolated reports of mutton appearing in supermarkets. However, the market has to grow slowly - we don't want it to burn brightly and wink out."

Mutton is available from September to March.