Haggis success

DEMAND for Scotland's national dish has pushed up sales of haggis by about a fifth in a year, according to figures today.

Total sales were worth 8.8 million last year – up by about 19 per cent from 2008.

The growing popularity has been explained by its use as an ingredient in a range of dishes, not just the annual Burns Supper, being celebrated today on the anniversary of the poet's birth.

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Haggis makers Macsween of Edinburgh said its sales increased by 20 per cent last year – and by 25 per cent in the run-up to Burns Night.

Company director Jo Macsween said growth has been particularly marked in England.

President of the National Farmers' Union Jim McLaren said overall demand for Scottish produce continues to rise.

He added: "In eating the traditional Burns supper of haggis, neeps and tatties, consumers will not only be enjoying a tasty dish, but will be offering their support to Scottish food producers."

The Scottish Government pointed to the year-long Homecoming celebrations which were said to have inspired more than 3,600 Burns Night suppers in 80 countries.

Sales could be boosted further by the news that haggis could return to America for the first time in more than 20 years.

US authorities are considering relaxing an import ban on the Scottish delicacy – brought in because it contains offal, including sheep lung, in the wake of the BSE crisis in 1989.

The Scottish Government said removing the ban would be a "vote of confidence" for haggis.

Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

"Reversing the ban would deliver a vote of confidence in Scottish producers, and allow Americans to sample our world-renowned national dish."

A spokeswoman for the US Department of Agriculture said that it was reviewing its regulations on sheep lung in line with a ruling from the World Organisation for Animal Health.