Venison is being touted as the new beef, with one deer farmer in North Yorkshire reporting a rise in demand of 165% over two years.

Holme Farmed Venison said turnover had risen from £1.5m to £4m over the period and claimed the meat's popularity was no flash in the pan.

Public interest in healthy food is credited with fuelling the rise because venison is low in fat and cholesterol but high in protein and Omega-3 oils.

Holme Farmed Venison farmer Nigel Sampson said he was confident the boom would continue, and cited predictions that venison could be as popular as beef by 2012.

"Last year was a record year for sales across the board," said Sampson. "Our orders are seeing a 70% increase in supermarket, catering and independent sectors."

Meanwhile, pub chain Beefeater is selling venison and has launched a multi-million pound advertising campaign promoting the meat.