UK Venison imports set to double in next five years

The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project
The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project

THE UK love for venison could see imports ‘more than doubling’ in the next five years according to the Scottish Venison Partnership (SVP).

SVP estimates that the total annual UK venison outturn is 3800 tonnes, with 70% of this coming from Scotland’s wild red deer cull.

However, imports from New Zealand stood at around 17,000 carcase equivalents or 900 tonnes in 2015 with additional product coming into the UK from Poland, Ireland, Spain and other European countries.

Chairman of SVP, Bill Bewsher, said: “The UK continues to import around one third of the venison that it consumes and we export to Europe about one third of what we produce – mostly venison from roe deer and late season red from stags, although this can vary subject to fluctuations in the Euro exchange rate.

“We import farmed venison because as yet the UK cannot produce enough volume from farmed stock which gives consistency in terms of age, colour, eatability and conformation of the meat.”

SVP estimates that UK consumption has increased 10% year-on-year. If the trend continues, venison will rise from 3800 to 6000 tonnes by 2021.

However if domestic production increases by 5% per annum, imports will be double what they are now by 2020 to meet UK market demand and account for almost 50% of UK venison consumption by 2021.

“Our latest estimates are that the UK production capacity, wild and farmed, will total some 4800 tonnes by 2021 of which up to one third may be exported. To fulfil UK market demand this would mean importing almost 3000 tonnes, which is clearly good news for New Zealand’s deer industry and for venison producers in Europe.”

The number of deer farms in the UK is increasing, since Scottish deer farmers were made eligible for the basic payment, and the Scottish Government has been supporting initiatives such as the Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project.

The Deer Farm and Park Demonstration Project was an initiative carried out between 2014 and 2015, to educate those interested in deer farming about the farmed and park deer sector.

It was supported by the SRDP Skills Development Scheme, jointly funded by the Scottish Government and the European Union and gave farmers a chance to visit successful deer farms, meet with the owners and attend talks and demonstrations with experts.

Scottish Venison Day (4 September 2016)  is a focal point for the Scottish Venison sector, and those who produce, stock, sell or serve Scottish venison are encouraged to raise the profile of the product at this time, although, with increasing demand and a growing market, venison is no longer seasonal in availability.

A study undertaken by PACE consultants in 2014 found that deer management in Scotland overall contributes an estimated £140million each year to the Scottish economy and supports 2,500 full-time jobs.”

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