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our guide to selling venison locally

COVID-19 restrictions on hospitality and catering, as well as the cheaper import of foreign venison, has made it difficult for UK deer stalkers to sell meat on. One solution is to look at selling venison locally.

However, this will require setting up a small business and being a trained hunter. Click the links for details on deer stalking training or The Wild Game Guide.

Here is a quick guide on how to sell venison locally in England and Wales…

Selling venison locally

There are some good opportunities to sell venison locally, the public has an appetite for wild and British meat. It appears that COVID-19 has made many people become much more conscious about their health and wellbeing. And this trend seems to have remained even after the restrictions were lifted.

We have seen an increase in venison sales locally. Consumers not only want to support local businesses but are also much more concerned about what they are eating. This was highlighted by Mintel in their COVID-19 research June 2020.

Below, we have put together some useful information to help you if you are thinking of selling venison locally. 

Key points on wild game guidance

  • Wild game for your own consumption or to GIVE AWAY to friends or family on an occasional basis is not subject to any of the requirements of EU food safety legislation. This applies to ‘private domestic consumption’. However, under the Food Safety Act, you are still accountable if you put unsafe food into the food chain
  • If you supply a small amount of in-fur game to the final consumer, you are required to be registered with your local authority as a food business. The term ‘small quantities’ is regarded as self-defining. That’s because demand for in-fur or in-feather carcasses is limited. 
  • The final consumer is defined as “the ultimate consumer of a foodstuff who will not use the food as part of any food business operation or activity”. 
  • However, the supply of wild game meat to the final consumer or local retailers is subject to the general food law requirements and food hygiene requirements. Therefore, if you as a hunter supply game meat in this way, you will be regarded as a food business operator. You must be registered as a food business. 
  • To protect public health, local authorities need to be able to identify those who are operating a food business. They need to know the address where the business is located. And they need to know what activities you carry out. You need to contact the environmental health department of your local authority to find out what is required. 
  • If you supply game meat in this way, you must keep traceability records and operate in accordance with the general food hygiene requirements. This means you’ll need temperature-controlling facilities, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and hygienic transport including chilling. This applies to both the in-fur/in-feather game you bring from the shooting area and delivery of meat you supply to final consumers/retailer.
  • In Scotland, it is a legal requirement for one party in any transaction (sale, barter or exchange) to be a venison dealer, unless the venison was bought from a venison dealer. You can, however, give venison away.

FAQs

Q. What is the best way to get my deer butchered if I do not have the skills?

A. Most approved game handling establishments do a buy-back service where you can drop off the carcasses and they will butcher the meat for you, just ask your local game dealer.

Q. What sort of products sell well?

A. Added value is the best way to make money on your venison and to sell those cuts which are hard to sell.

Steaks always sell well but you could think about adding a special sauce to the pack to make your product unique. It does not have to be homemade – a local sauce supplier may be happy to help you.

Sausages and burgers are always popular too. There is a great YouTube butcher Scott Rae who has videos on how to make them. Mincers and burger presses can be bought online and are relatively inexpensive. Venison mince is also good for replacing beef mince in recipes. But be very careful with your food hygiene as minced meat can be contaminated easily.

Casserole meat will sell very well in the winter. It’s also a good idea to have simple recipes to give to any customers unsure how to cook venison.

Free venison recipe leaflets can be obtained from Taste of Game but you can produce your own recipe cards too. You are welcome to use any Taste of Game recipes from their website.

Q. How do I package my meat?

A. Vacuum packers are easy to use and can be bought online. Familiarise yourself with the package guidelines set out by the Food Standards Agency about allergens and what information is required on the package.

Q. How do I sell my venison locally?

A. The easiest way is through the word of mouth. Ask friends and family to spread the word – people like recommendations. A good way to sell venison locally is to go to local farmers’ markets. They are a great place to sell your products and get the word out. You will need to think of a name for your company, too.

You can also sell online but take into account packaging costs and postage. The safest way is to send out the meat frozen on a next-day delivery service with appropriate packaging to keep the products cold. Everything you will need can be purchased online. You can also think about doing your own deliveries, but the meat must be kept at below seven degrees during the entire journey.

Your local butcher or farm shop may also be keen to find a venison supplier, so don’t be afraid to ask around. Try your local restaurants or pubs, too. 

Q. Can I sell or give away venison on Facebook?

A. Yes, you can but you must be registered as a Food Business with your local council. Meat should be kept at below seven degrees in transit.

Key marketing messages to use when selling venison locally.

Taste of Game did some consumer research earlier in 2020 to find out what consumers are drawn to:

What the consumer does not want

  • Pictures of the dead deer, especially with the stalker leaning over it with a gun in his hand. They link it with trophy hunting.
  • Names of products which humanise the animal (such as Bambi).

What the consumer does want

  • Traceability – where and when it was harvested so they know it is fresh.
  • Locally sourced – provenance is important.
  • British – they like it to be immediately recognisable as British (i.e. British flag).
  • Wild – against farmed they want to know it has had a nice natural life.
  • Healthy – they want to know the health benefits of eating your products. Many are unaware of how healthy wild venison
  • Pictures of live animals and natural countryside are acceptable to the consumer.
  • Venison is seen as a special occasion (Christmas, weddings, etc.) meat so some cuts can be sold to this market.

Main messages for game promotion could be:

  • Game is a healthy, wild and natural alternative to everyday meat. Deer enjoy a free-roaming, stress-free life in the British countryside.
  • Game meat is a traditional, sustainable and ethical meat with high nutritional value.
  • Game is a lean meat that is lower in fat than everyday meats.
  • You don’t need any special skills to cook game and it can easily replace everyday meats in everyday meals.
  • If you’re not sure whether you (or the kids) will like game, try sausages or burgers first (a product the consumer recognises).
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