The report, commissioned by the Mutton Renaissance Campaign, evaluates the effectiveness of the initiative to put good quality mutton back on the nation's plates. Sheep farmers are also encouraged to take advantage of the growing market.
Before the launch of the Mutton Renaissance Campaign in 2004, the consumption of quality mutton was considered to be minimal. In the new report, the market for renaissance mutton has been evaluated for the first time and is estimated at 1,000t (34,000 carcases), worth up to £2m at retail level.
The report was written by David Croston, former chief executive of EBLEX who now works as a livestock industry consultant. Croston's research shows that, although the campaign is in its infancy, there is a widely held view that slow, steady growth can be achieved.
Croston said: "The number of butchers involved is small and needs to be increased. The Campaign also needs to bring on board more slaughterers so that mutton can be supplied to a larger number of butchers."
So far, 10 slaughterers and 37 butchers are registered as renaissance mutton stockists. The campaign would like to hear from other businesses so that they can be added to a national directory.
Croston added that farmers in hill or upland areas were in the best position to capitalise on the new interest in mutton and by improving the quality of the mutton produced to meet the campaign's specification would allow them to reach new customers and to encourage existing customers to try the meat.
He said: "The greatest opportunity is for these farmers to consider selling direct to consumers or to link up with slaughterers and wholesale distributors with food service or retail customers."