Deer association launches venison quality mark
Published:  25 September, 2014

With the popularity of venison soaring as reported by Kantar Worldpanel, a new quality assurance mark has been launched to ensure welfare and quality standards for retailers and consumers.

The British Deer Farms and Parks Association (BDFPA) quality assurance scheme ensures good practice is upheld by park managers. The scheme was developed with SFQC, a food industry certification body, as well leading UK deer parks.

“This scheme aims to encourage best practice with deer park owners and managers – enabling them to improve standards and get the most from their herds while also satisfying retailer concerns. Similar assurance schemes for traditional livestock have resulted in both improved welfare of the animals as well as the price owners get from their stock. Hopefully this scheme has similar benefits,” reported Jonathan Whitehead, technical advisor at SFQC.

Nigel Sampson, BDFPA president, has said the scheme should help improve park management. “I see the development of quality assurance for park deer as a vital step in encouraging parks to improve the management and health of their deer, as well as reducing winter mortality in hard winters.”

The scheme will be made available to the 250 members of the BDFPA, but aims to be used more widely in the future: “I also believe that, eventually, quality assurance can help parks to gain access to new markets for their venison. All the multiple retailers report rapidly growing demand for this delicious lean meat. Every year Britain imports around 30,000 venison carcases from New Zealand and European Deer Farms. Park venison could help to reduce the dependence on imported products while also helping to grow a British industry.

“There is much more park venison than farmed venison produced in England and park venison is one of the few meats that can be humanely produced without recourse to an abattoir. It is grass-fed and locally produced and we need to sing its praises more loudly. We will be holding several open days to give park owners the chance to fully understand the scheme,” Sampson concluded.