Drive to promote Scottish venison

The Scottish venison industry has begun its three-year push to increase consumer demand for deer meat.

The Scottish Venison Working Group, which represents processors and producers, wants to raise awareness of the health and environmental benefits of Scottish wild and farmed venison.

The group hopes to increase consumer and trade demand, raise venison quality standards and 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.

Central to the initiative is the launch of a new web portal for Scottish venison (www.scottish-venison.info), which will include information about the benefits of venison, quality assurance, news, recipes and retailer listings.

Leo Barclay, stalker and owner of the Innerhadden Estate, said: “Our new website, while it already contains a significant amount of interest, will be continually updated with recipes, restaurants, 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.

“But, 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.”

The initiative was launched on 4 September, which the group hopes to establish as Scottish Venison Day. Events took place at Blair Castle in Scotland and The Ivy in London.

Caprice Holdings chef director Tim Hughes said: “We currently have venison on the menu in three of our restaurants, including The Ivy. It’s a meat that tends to be popular with our more health-conscious customers, because it contains very little fat and the protein content is high.

“It has a versatility that means it can be presented in many different ways – with seasonal fruit compôte, traditional trimmings, haggis or “neeps and tatties”. Most importantly, it’s delicious and customers like what we do with it.”