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Call to eat more venison
Venison producers in Scotland today urged consumers to eat more of the meat, stressing its increased availability, its health benefits and its quality.
Producers of both wild and farmed venison are working hard to embed today - September 4 - in the UK culinary calendar as Eat Scottish Venison Day.
The initiative, launched today by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, marks a coming together of Scotland's venison industry in a bid to raise awareness of their product among consumers, and the restaurant, catering and food service trade.
The initiative, which has been developed by the Scottish Venison Working Group, is intended as a three-year push that, through increased consumer and trade demand, will raise quality standards more widely and should encourage producers to bring more venison to the market - not just from red deer but also from sika and roe, the bulk of which currently goes for export to Europe.
At a stalkers breakfast prepared al fresco on Atholl Estate by award-winning chef Tom Lewis of Monachyle Mhor, Balquhidder, Mr Lochhead said:
"This new initiative will help raise awareness of the increasing availability of one of our most iconic products. A significant proportion of venison is now produced to Scottish Quality Wild Venison (SQWV) standards and it is one of healthiest products on the market.
"I want to congratulate the Scottish Venison Working Group for their hard work so far and I am pleased it has succeeded in bringing Scotland's main producers of wild and farmed venison together in a joint campaign. I wish the campaign every success for the future."
Central to the initiative is the launch of a new web portal for Scottish venison that will give both trade customers and consumers a one-stop source for anything they want to know.
The site features all information including the venison story, quality assurance, health benefits, education pages, and news about Scottish venison. One focus will be to tell the consumer where to buy and where to eat Scottish venison, coupled with recipes from chefs, and recipes and serving suggestions submitted by the public.
Stephen Gibbs, Chairman of the Scottish Venison Working Group said:
"We have been eating venison since time immemorial - and long before our reliance on herds of domestic livestock and poultry. But the industry has moved on. We have joined together, including Scotland's deer farmers, to raise awareness of our world class product, and we have chosen September 4 as a fitting annual date to celebrate it."
"Our website is very much a work in progress and, while it contains a significant amount of interest right now, it will be continually updated with recipes, restaurants and retailers, and other relevant information. We would like it to be regarded both as our magazine and as a source of reference and news about what is happening across the Scottish venison industry.
"What we want most of all is for people to start thinking about and asking for Scottish venison - when they go to a restaurant, or at their local butcher, or when looking for a Christmas hamper on the web."
Chef Tom Lewis says:
"Chefs have always recognised that Scottish venison is a great product, as it is delicious, nutritious, easy to cook and you can be as creative as you like. It's a very versatile meat, which lends itself to all types of cooking, from exotic meals to simple fare and from posh dinners to family tea."
The Scottish Venison Working Group comprises: The Association of Deer Management Groups (ADMG), the British Deer Farmers Association (BDFA), the Deer Commission for Scotland (DCS), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), and Scottish Quality Wild Venison (SQWV).
The Scottish venison industry is worth around £105 million pounds per annum, and accounts for 966 direct jobs and a further 1,555 full time equivalents, many of these in remote rural areas. Around 3,500 tonnes of Scottish venison are produced annually for UK and overseas markets.
Eat More Venison Day promotes the product as increasingly available, one of the healthiest products on the market (of all meat and poultry), accredited under strict quality assurance criteria.