Upping your game

The ready meal game range is jumping up the ratings with consumers nationally.

The manufacturer of a ready-meals range is developing a selection of game-based products for retail in both major multiples and independent butchers' shops to meet growing consumer demand. Game dishes have already been introduced to the Look What We Found range and rabbit and venison feature in the range's overall top five selling meals.

Keith Gill, managing director of Tanfield Food Company, owner of the Look What We Found brand, says there is a bright future for game and it is undergoing a culinary renaissance. However, he warns that unless the sector is properly regulated, stock and standards cannot be guaranteed.

He says: "We had to take the rabbit-leg dish off the shelves for the summer because we couldn't get legs big enough, but we are going to relaunch the product in September, with rabbit meat instead, due to popular demand."

New sausage varieties, which have yet to be launched in the range, include venison and wild boar and the company has developed a mixed game casserole with pheasant and pigeon.

"We think game is a good area to develop and it's due to consumer demand. Rabbit and venison were almost forgotten, but they are starting to come back due to a combination of an older generation wanting to try something that they had when they were younger and also people travelling abroad and picking up different recipes. For example, rabbit is a particularly strong dish in Spain. People are a lot more adventurous with their food today," Gill says.

The range of Look What We Found products are stocked in Waitrose and Sainsbury's and in some delicatessen and independent butchers' shops. The meals are sourced from small-scale specialist producers and are sealed in packaging requiring no refrigeration.

Gill says the demand for game in butchers' shops depends on the location of the shop, but where there is definite interest - for example in rural areas - he encourages butchers to stock game to meet customers' growing expectations.