Tuesday 4 September 2018


The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has welcomed the Scottish Government's commitment to growing the venison industry in Scotland and beyond, saying it is time for the nation to make the best use of a prized but under-utilised asset.
SGA Chairman Alex Hogg has been a key member of the steering group helping to drive forward the government's strategic 9-point plan aimed at major sector growth in wild and farmed deer by 2030.
Food and drink is now one of the key pillars of the nation's economy but the SGA has felt, for some considerable time, that the undoubted potential of venison and game has not yet been realised.
The announcement of governmental support has therefore been hugely welcomed by the SGA, whose members include many hundreds of trained men and women responsible for managing deer in Scotland; an industry sustaining 2520 full-time jobs.
"Venison is a tremendous product. It is healthy, lean and sustainable and, for some time, we have been asking for more support to see it reach some of its huge potential," said SGA Chairman Alex Hogg.
"It has been a long-held aspiration of the SGA that venison and game should become a regular part of our diet but there have been barriers and not enough awareness.
"We'd like to thank Fergus Ewing for his energy in driving this forward, for recognising the potential that exists and engaging the sector on what can be done. SGA members have the qualifications and meat hygiene training to push forward activity on the ground. With the right level of government support, we are sure we can get venison into local markets; with the potential for people to see deer in a very different light.
"When we first spoke to Fergus Ewing about the potential in the market, he pulled out the stops to pull together all the relevant parties. We are particularly pleased to see recognition at government level that investment in local larder facilities can potentially create employment, ensure the venison resource is used locally and will also help government meet its deer management targets. This is a win-win situation the SGA has advocated for some time and we look forward to helping carry the plans forward."

The key elements of the 9 point plan include: (see full plan at the foot of the official press release).

  • Establish an industry hub for market research and information
  • Identify new markets and build supply chains
  • Drive forward quality assurance
  • Develop skills and training
  • New Entrant and Expansion Fund for deer farming plus the launch of a monitor farm programme
  • Invest in area-based facilities
  • Marketing and education in schools
  • Build on Research and Development to improve productivity
  • Develop new recipes and products

Please see the full Scottish Government press release, below.

Strategic vision outlines sector growth to 2030.
The first ever strategy for Scotland's wild and farmed venison sector has been launched, with the aim of bringing together the wild and farmed deer interests for the first time, and setting out nine "key area" for growth across the sector.   
Those key areas include skills-building initiatives, a fund to support new entrants to venison farming and the need for further research and development.
Speaking from Downfield Farm venison processing plant in Cupar, Fife, Minister for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon said:
"I am delighted to help to launch this strategy for this exciting, burgeoning sector in Scotland's food and drink success story.
"Venison is a premium food, renowned for its quality, provenance and health credentials, and its reputation continues to rise in both domestic and international markets.  We know the venison market in the UK alone is estimated to be worth around £100 million per year and demand has been increasing year on year. With this strategy in place, the sector in a Scotland now has a fantastic opportunity to meet rising demand, displace imports and target new market opportunities.     
"I welcome that the industry has come together to develop a plan that will build on the strong foundations put in place by the venison pioneers in Scotland. Deer farming and management play a significant role in supporting a thriving and sustainable rural economy and this strategy will support our shared wider ambitions to grow it.  
"And it's very fitting to launch the new strategy on Scottish Venison Day and during Food and Drink fortnight, the annual celebration and promotion of Scotland's food and drink sector. The Scottish Government looks forward to working with the sector to take forward the actions contained with the strategy."
Bill Bewsher, Chairman, The Scottish Venison Partnership, said:
"Venison producers and processors in Scotland, both wild and farmed, will take very significant encouragement from this new strategy. 
"We are exceptionally fortunate that on the one hand we have a rich asset in our wild deer as a sustainable source of healthy food and, on the other, increasing enthusiasm and undoubted potential to grow our farmed venison sector to meet expanding markets both in the UK and elsewhere. This strategy points all of us in the right direction with a set of common goals for 2030 and we are grateful for the additional support forthcoming from government in helping us to meet them.”

Download the full strategy from this link. https://news.gov.scot/resources/venison-strategy-final