August 2011

Scotland needs dramatic upswing in deer farm numbers to meet venison demand

The Scottish Venison Partnership has announced that if things don't change Scotland will lose out as the lucrative venison market grows, and that the country needs up to 500 more deer farms to cope with an ever increasing demand for this popular food product.

The Group, which represents Scotland's venison industry, is also about to commission a study into the feasibility of large scale venison parks in an attempt to address the shortage of home produced venison, and is advocating the promotion of roe venison, in addition to the more traditional red deer venison, to boost supply.

Globally Scotland should be at the forefront of venison production, but despite having the land, the deer, the ‘Monarch of the Glen’ heritage and a huge and increasing demand, Scotland is being left behind, with venison being imported from New Zealand and Europe to compensate for the lack of available, home produced supply.

Venison sales across the UK grew from £32m in 2006 to £43m in 2009, an increase of over 34 per cent in three years. The market is still growing, due to a number of factors including increased awareness, TV food programmes extolling the virtues of venison as a tasty, healthy, versatile food, popularity with top chefs, and game dealer/processor initiatives to encourage major supermarkets to list their venison products.

The proposition fits well with Scottish Government objectives for sustainable economic development and social well-being, and the Scottish Venison Partnership is hoping that once the study into the financial viability of large scale farming is complete, a number of pilot schemes can be set up from which the results will encourage others to enter the sector. Meanwhile the Partnership will continue to promote Scottish roe venison and Scottish red deer venison, albeit in declining quantities, to a public who can't get enough.

Chairman of the Scottish Venison Partnership, Stephen Gibbs, said: "We have a huge opportunity here to capitalise on a growing demand, not just in the UK but globally too, where Scottish venison is seen as a world-class high-quality food. In Scotland we have been eating venison long before our reliance on beef, lamb, pork or chicken, and if we can move up several gears on the production front we can ensure a consistent supply in the future.”