British Sausage Appreciation Week, said to be the biggest ever celebration of the banger in this country, begins on October 30 against a background of disappointing performance in the marketplace. Latest Taylor Nelson Sofres household consumption data show total sausage purchases 1.6% lower in the four weeks to September 17 than a year earlier, with a sharp drop of more than 4% in expenditure. The contraction is less severe over the period since the beginning of the year relative to the corresponding months in 1999, but the emerging picture is of sausages sharing with burgers (excluding beefburgers) a puzzling loss of demand in a market generally moving towards further processed products. On the other hand, there are the usual exceptions to the rule, with specialist suppliers including Mr Lazenby's launching new premium lines and claiming enthusiastic response from customers. {{MEAT }}