Representatives from all across Scotland’s venison sector hear plans for one of our most iconic and sustainable food products

The Scottish Venison Summit took place on Monday 20 November at the Birnam Arts and Conference Centre, Perthshire.

Published: 21/11/2023

The Scottish Venison Summit took place on Monday 20 November at the Birnam Arts and Conference Centre, Perthshire.

Under the title Taking Stock the summit attended by around 100 delegates from right across the venison supply chain – stalkers and producers, venison processors, deer farmers and trade customers – set out the challenges and opportunities facing the sector and plans to move it forward.  The event was supported by the Association of Deer Management Groups.

One of Scotland’s most iconic and sustainable foods, venison has like many other products been subject to a range of uncontrollable external influences over the last five years, not least Brexit, the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, rising costs and the climate emergency. Through a refreshed industry-led venison strategy those attending heard how the sector must rise to the challenge of converting output from an increased deer cull into healthy sustainable food, how growth in markets must be stimulated, and how the time has never been better for promoting the venison story.

The keynote address was given by Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, the Scottish Government.  She said:

“Scottish venison is some of the finest in the world. Its quality and sustainability make it a product that remains highly sought after both at home and abroad.

“Recent legislative changes to help manage Scotland’s spiralling deer numbers have provided this industry with a unique opportunity to get more venison into the shopping baskets of consumers.

“We will continue to work with the sector to ensure that businesses can take full advantage of this. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this ongoing collaboration, both for the industry as well as our environment.”

Other speakers included representatives from Scotland Food & Drink, John Forteith Consulting, SAOS, the Association of Deer Management Groups, Highland Game, the Country Food Trust, Trees for Life and Perthshire Game with the programme rounded off by Tim Maddams, self-acclaimed chef, venison ambassador and free-range foodie.

Richard Cooke, Chairman, the Scottish Venison Association, said:

“We have a new twelve-point strategy to take the sector forward, including supply chain and market development, enhanced skills and training, developing quality assurance, and responding to the climate emergency.  As well as shifting volume and encouraging supply through the major processors we want to be able to process more product locally and to meet and grow the demands of local markets in Scotland as well as stimulating market growth further afield, particularly in London and SE England. 

“Our summit brought the whole sector together, and the messages from it need to be broadcast far afield.  Venison is one of the most sustainable proteins available – if not the most sustainable.  Its ‘harvest’ as the result of actions taken to manage our deer numbers across all of Scotland – including beyond the red deer open range where deer densities are on average already below the 10 per sq km target - will enhance biodiversity and combat climate change. We have such a good story to tell.

“We hope that the summit and our new industry-led strategy in partnership with all involved in the production, processing and supply of venison will re-set the dial and give us the focus we need to move this great product forward.”

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