The UK market for game meat is growing, according to a new survey published by the Countryside Alliance as part of its Game-to-Eat campaign.

Will Oakley, of game dealer Willo Game, which took part in the survey along with 48 shoots, said: ?There has been increasing demand over the past five years through supermarkets, restaurants and butchers. Game is seen as healthy, reasonably priced and more readily available compared to free-range or organic chicken.?

The research, which was done in conjunction with the National Gamekeepers? Organisation, also found that the amount of game sold by shoots directly to local outlets has reduced during the recession.

60% of the shoots interviewed had sold direct at some point, but in the past few years, 40% of these had reverted to selling all their game to game dealers.

Only a third of shoots were still involved in direct sales and two-thirds had been selling most of their game to dealers for the past five years.

The study revealed that all shot game was finding a way into the food chain.

Alexia Robinson, director of Game-to-Eat, said: ?We wanted to establish how robust different supply chains are and how much shoots are capitalising upon the excitement around ?local? as a key selling point.

?Though local supply chains are slightly more fragile than they were a few years ago, what is very good news is that the survey has demonstrated categorically that all game shot is finding a home in the food chain, whether it is via dealers or direct sales.?

This finding runs counter to bogus claims made against shooting that only a small percentage of shot game is consumed.