Scotland’s deer population is estimated to be in excess of one million, but many trained recreational deer stalkers in Scotland struggle to access deer management opportunities.
Quality assurance scheme launched for wild venison
Applications opened this week for the British Quality Wild Venison (BQWV) standard, in a drive to build resilience and buyer confidence in the wild venison market.
The BQWV is the first quality assurance scheme for wild venison produced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It ensures that a set of audited standards are met throughout the supply chain process.
Applications are open to both producers (deer stalkers and managers) and processors (Approved Game Handling Establishments (AGHEs)).
The BQWV seeks to further strengthen the resilience of the wild venison market, increase buyer confidence and support woodland management by addressing the problems posed by a large deer population.
The scheme is aimed at those producing and dealing with large quantities of venison and will include annual assessments, with applicants required to demonstrate compliance with the standards.
Welcoming the launch of the standard, BASC’s head of deer and woodland management, Martin Edwards, said: “BASC has worked alongside other stakeholders to get this standard to the start line. As has already been seen in Scotland with the Scottish Quality Wild Venison standard, this version has the capability to bolster confidence in the wild venison market leading to stability and expansion.
“With retailers increasing the demand for quality assured wild venison at the top of the market, producers should feel the benefit of helping the deer management sector at the start of the chain.
“No-one will be expecting overnight change, but the standard has the potential to open doors and see wild venison reach its full potential. BASC will be pushing uptake of BQWV at each step within the market.”
To learn more about the standard and to apply, visit the BQWV website here.
BASC launches the BQWV standard’s group scheme
Within the BQWV standard, BASC has created a group scheme to help reduce the costs and administrative burden on deer stalkers and managers. The scheme is aimed at those shooting up to 300 deer per year.
Martin explains: “In order to make the standard as accessible as possible, BASC has created a group scheme that will keep the administration and costs as low as possible.
“The scheme will open the door to a new market for those larger producers who manage a significant proportion of the UK deer population.”
At the launch of the BQWV standard, Defra Minister Trudy Harrison said: “We must develop ways to manage deer more sustainably if we are to meet our tree-planting targets and protect our precious woodlands and biodiversity. This announcement is an important step towards achieving that aim and creating a thriving market for British wild venison.”
Frequently asked questions
Who is the BQWV standard aimed at?
The standard is aimed at producers (deer stalkers) and processors (AGHEs). The standard is optional so producers should speak to their AGHE to see if they are signed up and to find out whether it is a worthwhile investment for them to join, too.
What are the benefits of joining the BQWV standard as a producer?
The standard will not necessary fit everyone’s deer management situation. But for those handling a large number of deer carcasses, the creation of a higher standard will ensure contracts are kept and, in time, a higher price per carcass is returned.
Take-up across the sector will improve traceability of wild venison and ensure a set of standards are met throughout the supply chain process, from point of shot through to the end of the processing chain.
Do I have to join if I want to sell venison to a game dealer?
No, most game dealers will continue to purchase carcasses from those who are not signed up to the BQWV but which are still produced at an extremely high standard and have a marketplace of their own.
Where can I find the standards? For more information, please visit the BQWV website.
What will be required of me if I joined the scheme?
To be awarded the BQWV standard, applicants must demonstrate compliance. This includes ensuring that carcasses are handled correctly; the use of non-lead ammunition; that premises are registered as food businesses with the local authority; and that standards expected for producing food are met, in line with relevant regulations and best practice, ensuring that there is full traceability.
How does the group scheme work?
The group scheme is aimed at producers (deer stalkers) shooting up to 300 deer per year. The standards are the same and you will be inspected once a year, but the costs are reduced, with BASC undertaking much of the administrative work on behalf of members.