The secret appears to be out as sales of game are on the rise, with grouse reported to be particularly popular.
The popularity of game meat is rocketing, with sales in the UK rising by 8.6 per cent in the last year and some Scottish game dealers reporting a five-fold increase in demand for grouse.
A new report by independent market researcher Mintel says that general UK sales now stand at £114 million, meaning that an estimated 14 per cent of the UK population now regularly consumes game meat, with around half that number eating it from between once a month up to four times a week.
— Game-to-Eat (@GametoEat) January 31, 2018
Game meat is more trustworthy
In total, 67 per cent of consumers also felt that being able to trace meat back to the farm or estate from which it came made it a more trustworthy source of food.
Annette Woolcock, development manager for BASC’s Taste of Game game meat promotion campaign, welcomed the news, but said that shoots can do more to help increase its popularity: “The growth enjoyed by game meat in recent years has largely stemmed from niche products and increased availability.
“There is still considerable potential to grow volume sales through wider distribution, [such as] adding value with ready meals, which the industry has not really embraced yet. It is extremely important that the development of game meat products is increased.”
Ms Woolcock explained: “People who shoot can help with this by spreading the word about the great taste of game. They could give a dressed brace to a friend or speak to local pubs and restaurants about putting it on the menu.”
Our mouth’s watering just reading this one – @BrianGrigor’s Roast #Grouse Recipe with Salt Baked Celeriac, Scottish Brambles and Roasted Nuts – https://t.co/4vEF1V2UAW #GBGameWeek #blog pic.twitter.com/aqW2jAQe96
— ScottishLand&Estates (@ScotLandEstates) November 21, 2017
Grouse becoming a staple dish
Grouse doesn’t appear to be lacking in popularity – in some parts of Scotland, at least – where restaurants have reported said any grouse dishes quickly sell out and many restaurateurs and hoteliers are making grouse a staple on their menus during the season. This rise in popularity has been coupled with an increase in its availability, with butchers, farm shops and game dealers selling more “oven-ready” grouse, along with shooting parties being able to take plucked and dressed birds home with them.
These positive reports came at the recent Gift of Grouse event held at the Scottish Parliament last weekend, which was hosted by Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, and attended by more than 60 guests including gamekeepers, game dealers, farm shop owners and other food producers, as well as MSPs and representatives of Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scotland’s Natural Larder, Game to Eat and Taste of Game.
Brian Grigor, head chef of Number One at The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, treated guests to some grouse canapés at the Gift of Grouse event. He said: “Grouse is a really delicious and healthy game meat and consumers are now eating far more thoughtfully, by choosing produce in season. It is fantastic to see a growing appreciation for grouse beyond fine dining restaurants as more local food retailers are stocking ‘oven-ready’ grouse available for the general public.”
If you find yourself in London and in need of some game, then the Punchbowl in Mayfair is a welcoming…
Traditional roast young grouse with Irish bacon, game chips, Cumberland sauce, Madeira wine sauce and bread sauce
Five-fold increase in demand for the birds
Jeremy Dixon of Ochil Foods in Perthshire, was also in attendance at the event. He revealed that he had seen a huge increase in demand for the birds: “We supply grouse from estates in Deeside, Angus and East Lothian to restaurants, pubs and hotels throughout the country and we have noticed a five-fold increase in the demand for grouse this year compared to last year, consumers more than ever want to eat the very best produce Scotland has to offer.
Andrew Hopetoun, chairman of the Scottish Moorland Group, said that game “offers a way of life” to many rural communities and called it “an important part of many artisan food businesses.” He added: “People today want produce with provenance and quality at heart and Scottish grouse has exactly that.”