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Are Britons bored of Christmas turkey?

Turkey is a firm favorite at Christmas, but game meat is enjoying a resurgence of popularity in Britain, according to a new report from Mintel.

The market research firm said that game was "flying high" in the U.K., with the market expanding by one-third in the last five years alone.

Venison (deer) was the star performer, with its usage increasing to 17 percent from 13 percent over the last 12 months, according to Mintel's survey of 2,000 British Internet users aged 16 or over.


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"This growth is a testament to consumers being experimental with their in-home meals, as part of the growing 'foodie culture' in the U.K. We see consumers looking to expand their repertoires beyond the standard meat and poultry products which are cornerstones of British meal times," Emma Clifford, senior food analyst at Mintel, said in a report on Christmas Eve.

"Rising interest in scratch cooking and growing confidence in the kitchen is likely to be encouraging more people to branch out to different dishes, and perhaps recreate some which they have enjoyed in restaurants. Exposure of game from TV chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver is also helping to boost awareness of cooking with game and this is feeding through into sales."

Game refers to any animal hunted for food or pleasure rather than farmed. It includes small birds such as quail; winged game such as geese, ducks, grouse, partridges and pheasants; ground game such as hare and rabbits and big game such as venison and boar.

The game meat market in Briton is seen reaching £106 million ($158 million) by the end of 2015, up from £98 million in 2014, according to Mintel. Growth is expected to continue, with sales forecast to hit £143 million by 2020.

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Mintel said there was scope to propel the growth further, with 41 percent of Britons saying they had not eaten game in the past six months but would be interested in doing so in the future. Fifty-six percent of game eaters believed it was healthier than other red meats, according to Mintel.

Overall, one in four Britons ate game in the last six months, predominantly venison, according to Mintel. Only 7 percent had eaten hare, rabbit, boar or pheasant and only 4 percent had consumed quail, partridge or guinea fowl in that period.

The British Deer Farms and Parks Association claims that venison is lower in fat than a skinned breast of chicken, high in iron and low in cholesterol and contains healthy Omega 3 fatty acids usually found in fish.

Tesco's "finest venison haunch with a bramble and shallot sauce" had sold out as of December 23. The New Zealand joint was on sale for £26.25, to serve four to five people.

By comparison, Tesco's "finest British free-range bronze Turkey butterfly joint with pork, apricot, cranberry and brand stuffing" will serve 10 and costs £35. This had also sold out as of December 23.

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