A Scottish farmer has expressed her anger after finding New Zealand venison in a pack marked ‘Highland Game’ and apparently endorsed by Forestry and Land Scotland.
Sybil Macpherson took to Facebook after spotting the product in her local Tesco. In a post showing the pack Sybil said “I was both surprised and disappointed to read the label on this pack of venison for sale yesterday. Why, when we have ample supplies of Scottish venison available, is Tesco selling imported meat labelled ‘Highland Game’ working with Forestry and Land Scotland?”
Shooting Times has been aware for some time of reports that Dundee based company ‘Highland Game’ has been continuing to import significant volumes of venison from New Zealand despite a stubbornly low price for domestic venison. Farmed venison is preferred by some producers as carcasses are more consistent than those of wild deer, making processing easier and final products more reliable.
The New Zealand deer industry exported venison worth NZ$198 million in 2018 and currently there are nearly 900,000 deer on New Zealand farms. The government does not publish statistics on venison imports, however the Scottish venison partnership estimates that the UK imports 3000 tons of venison per year.
Despite containing farmed venison from the other side of the world the pack also carried the logo of Forestry and Land Scotland and the words “Working With Forestry and Land Scotland.” Forestry and Land Scotland replaced Forest Enterprise as Scotland’s national forestry agency and is the UK’s largest producer of venison due to its extensive regime of culling wild deer.
On the Highland Game website, it explains that, “Highland Game is the biggest processor and marketeer of UK venison. To support our business requirements out of season and thereby provide customers with all year round availability, specific to the scale of retail, we operate supply partnerships with best in class suppliers from New Zealand.”
A spokesperson for Forestry and Land Scotland did not see that it was a problem, saying: “We are proud to be working with the Scottish Venison Association, Highland Game and other venison producers to support and grow the venison processing sector in Scotland.
“We openly tender our venison supply and through this process we encourage partners to work with us and retailers to grow Scottish consumer awareness of venison.”
Forestry and Shooting Times understands that many deer managers continue to struggle to get a viable price for wild venison as large game dealers still have extensive frozen stock.