Meat prices are showing a steady recovery, with our basket recording a third consecutive rise to a level 3.3% higher than in the previous survey six weeks ago.

The basket is now just 0.6% lower in price than at this time last year and at its second-highest level since the survey began on 10 January last year. Chicken breast fillets accounted for the biggest rise (+9.8%) though whole large chicken was responsible for the survey's only fall (-4.8%).

British Poultry Council senior executive officer Richard Griffiths said he believed that the figures represented a slight shift in popularity among consumers towards chicken fillets and away from whole birds on grounds of convenience.

"It is encouraging to see value returning to the sector and to see that consumers have kept faith in British poultry despite the avian flu scare," he said.

Unsmoked back bacon accounted for the second-biggest change, up 9.5%, and pork chops also rose, by 5.1%.

Rises in wholesale pigmeat prices across Europe are having a knock-on effect on the British market, according to MLC marketing director Richard Lowe. "This is potentially very good news for British pig farmers because if processors are forced to pay more for imports, this should put British pig producers in a stronger position to get a better price," he said.

Lamb leg joints continued their price rise from the last survey to exactly the same level as one year ago. The price of rump steak rose slightly, but mince remained static.