Poussin producers have refuted reports that sales of the Spring chicken at retail level fell by 11.5% last year.

TNS reported sales down £500,000 to £4.5m last week, but the country's leading supplier, Harrison's Poultry, which reared five million of the small chickens last year, said it had not seen any slowdown in trading.

"If sales were falling the retailers would have come back to us to say they had an issue. Sales are going along quite nicely and poussin is growing in popularity all the time. Celebrity chefs are using it and it is more in the public gaze," said a spokesman.

British Poultry Council chief executive Peter Bradnock said the small market for poussin meant minor fluctuations in demand produced sizeable percentage changes.

"It is an item that is purchased relatively infrequently and in small numbers, and with such a small category it is unlikely to be uniformly captured," he said.

Poussin are small chickens that weigh under 750g.