British sausages are back in vogue, but the simple banger has had an upmarket makeover, according to new research from Mintel. 

This year Britain will consume an estimated 189,000 tonnes of sausages, a hearty 17% increase since 2000. But it is the impressive 23% increase in market value over the same five-year period that points to the rise and rise of the premium sausage, with 2005 value sales forecast to reach £530m (US$958.4m).

"Although not an obvious food to have benefited from an increasingly prosperous UK population, sausages have seen a notable shift towards more premium positioning.  Indeed, manufacturers today are reinventing sausages as posh nosh with quality-led production, after the association with mechanically recovered meat and cheap fillers tarnished the perception of this humble British staple," said David Bird, consumer analyst at Mintel.

Interestingly, up-market sausages are not only being made from variations on traditional recipes like pork and apple or pork and leek, they have also taken their cue from the rise in the popularity of ethnic cuisine, such as red Thai and lemongrass sausages or more adventurous combinations, such as duck and orange.

This move towards the more sophisticated sausage has propelled once basic British staples such as bangers and mash and toad in the hole to new culinary heights.  Indeed, these dishes now feature on the menus of some of the very finest London restaurants, including the Ivy. Sausages are now even in with the celebrity set, with Kate Winslet having served bangers and mash at her wedding do.

Although many bangers may have taken on a more exotic guise, two in five (43%) adults always try to buy British sausages and bacon where possible and so it is unlikely that this old favourite will ever lose it's true Britishness, according to Mintel.

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