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Time to up our game! By Jamie Stewart Scottish Countryside Alliance Director

As the annual pomp and ceremony that surrounds the glorious twelfth fades from the pages of the popular press for another year the mainstream of sport shooting in the UK, the partridge and pheasant season, gets underway. I am always delighted to read the success surrounding the marketing of wild game meat, particularly the reports from Games to Eat the Countryside Alliances campaign dedicated to promoting the delights of wild British game meat. Research from Market Intelligence - Industry Specific Solutions (Mintel) has found that the value of the game meat market has risen by 33% in the last five years, and is worth circa £106 million. However, much of this was driven by sales of venison, usage of which increased from 13% to 17% over the 12-month period preceding the survey. Scotland’s production of venison is lagging behind UK consumers’ growing appetite for consistent year-round supplies of the meat – and the likely outcome is that, unless more farmers get on-board, imports will have to double over the next five years. The Scottish Venison Partnership estimates that total annual UK venison production is now around 3800 tonnes, around 70% of which comes from Scotland’s wild red deer cull, with other species, 38

Scottish farmed and wild, and farmed from the rest of the UK, making up the other 30%. We have to congratulate the venison sector on their determination, innovative marketing campaigns and product development that has gone into what can only be descried as a success story. I only wish we could say the same for the game bird sector… If we are to accept the figures from British Poultry Council, we are now eating an estimated 2.2 million chickens per day, why do we have a problem eating pheasants and partridges at home? Best guess is that somewhere in the region of 80% of birds shot in the UK are exported to the Continent, although some are imported back to the UK as product. Efforts are being made to increase domestic consumption, through, for example Game-to-Eat and Games On promotional bodies for the sector, which provides information and recipes to the public and is supported by celebrity chefs. But clearly this isn’t enough! We have identified that pheasants and partridges yield lean healthy meat that is rich in protein but low in saturated fatty acids. The meat also contains high levels of essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, niacin and vitamin B6, but this

doesn’t seem to have tempted very many to try them. The game bird sector faces many more challenges than that of the venison sector,

particularly in the large volume of low producers scattered across the landscape. The physical and financial efforts to collect, transport, store and

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Shooting Scotland Magazine (October - November 2017)  

Shooting Scotland Magazine (October - November 2017)  

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