The unseasonably bad weather has sent retail sales of "winter" beef cuts soaring.

Demand for 'big volume' cuts such as roasting joints and mince has risen significantly over the past few months compared with last year.

In the four weeks to 17 June, sales of beef roasting cuts were up 46% year-on-year while beef mince sales were up 5.5% [MLC].

Last month, Sainsbury's sales of roasting cuts and mince were up 40% year-on-year. Beef sales were up 13%, lamb 8% and pork 4%, while its total fresh meat volume was up 9.7%. Asda has reported similar uplifts.

"Beef sales are strong and have been for the past few weeks, which is what we'd expect during cooler weather," said a spokesman. Though sales had started their usual seasonal decline in April, they had recovered to similar levels to those during autumn and winter, said Meat and Livestock Commission category director Richard Cullen.

"There's a link between the weather and meat consumption," he said. "When it's wet and miserable, consumers want a comforting warm meal and their thoughts turn to roast dinners and cottage pie."

The 5.5% rise in mince sales was particularly significant, he added. "It is quite a jump as 44% of beef volume is sold as mince," he said.

However, the rise in demand for supposed winter cuts has not hit traditional summer cuts, such as steaks, barbecue cuts and burgers.

In fact, despite the wet weather, sales of grilling and frying beef cuts have risen 9%, according to the latest MLC figures.

"Beef steak is up 2% while lamb chops and steaks are up 18%," said Cullen. "This indicates that consumers are still buying barbecue cuts, but instead of grilling them they're simply cooking them indoors."

The Asda spokesman added: "We have been surprised by the strength of demand for frying and grilling cuts, despite the poor weather."