Retailers are cashing in on the growing popularity of game as consumers turn in increasing numbers to the naturally lean meat.

Sales of game have soared in recent years and are expected to reach a market value of £84m by 2011, according to Mintel. That would represent a 47% increase on the 2006 figure.

"Game is very 'of the moment': its low-fat, healthy-eating properties and wild, natural and free-range distinctiveness make it a winner for today's consumer; it hits all the current buzz words," said Alexia Robinson from the Game-to-Eat campaign.

During the last five years supermarkets have overtaken butchers as the main purchase point for game, boosted by British producers being more able to deliver a robust supply of quality meat, Robinson said.

Venison represents 47% of UK game sales, with pheasant, partridge and grouse together making up 31% and the remainder made up of other game meats such as hare and wild boar.