The Wild Venison Working Group will focus on renewing demand for venison
The domestic venison market has suffered a decline in recent months due to mass closure of restaurants and hospitality venues as well as the market being well supplied with European carcasses.
However this crisis situation is now being addressed by a new body – the Wild Venison Working Group – which plans on strengthening existing markets, countering import competition from New Zealand and Europe and addressing reduced demand caused by COVID-19.
Annette Woolcock of Taste of Game explained to Shooting UK that wholesalers opted for imported venison as it was provided at a consistent age throughout the year, rather than the domestic seasonal wild venison with varying cull ages.
“Previously there was little requirement to market wild venison as its quality meant it sold itself. However changes to the market and the impact of coronavirus have led us to this point.”
The Wild Venison Working Group is collaborating with Grown in Britain to develop a robust certification scheme which will lead to more opportunities to market the product both in the UK and abroad. A ‘Wild Venison Week’ will be held early in 2021.
David Hooton, Forestry Commission Regional Deer Officer, said: “Our new Working Group will help improve the supply chain so venison can reach a wider marketplace, whilst also protecting our landscapes and our natural environment.”
Annette Woolcock adds: “Working together on one concentrated brand and pooling resources will lead to higher productivity and success. We need our target market group and up and coming markets to recognise what a delicious, healthy meat venison is – totally wild and British.”
The Wild Venison Working Group is chaired by The Forestry Commission with representation from woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping and venison supply sectors. These include The British Deer Society, National Gamekeepers Organisation, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, National Game Dealers’ Association, Forestry England, Suffolk County Council and Taste of Game.
Deer management has been an increasingly urgent problem as the UK deer population is currently at its highest level for the last 1000 years, negatively impacting woodland, rare plants, birds and invertebrates.