Butchers could be wiped off the British high street within a generation, unless urgent action is taken to attract youngsters into the trade.

That is the bleak warning from a survey of more than 200 butchers across the UK, carried out ahead of National Butchers’ Week next week.

Two-thirds of UK butchers do not currently have a “natural successor” to take over their businesses when they retire, the report found, and only two out of five have an apprentice.

“The industry is facing a ticking time bomb,” the report’s authors said.

Butchers are unable to fill apprenticeships and positions because young people want to work in “more glamorous” areas or are looking for easier, unskilled work instead, according to the report.

“We have uncovered a real challenge for traditional, skilled professions,” said National Butchers’ Week organiser Ed Bedington. “What’s most surprising is that the findings come from an industry that offers apprentices the opportunity to learn a real trade.”

Although the next generation of master butchers is proving hard to find, many high-street butchers are reporting thriving sales.