Leading Scottish supplier of wild venison, Highland Game, has announced the latest addition to its award-winning product range. The restaurant quality Wild Venison Fillet (RRP £5.00, 170g) will launch this week in Tesco (Wednesday 2 September) and comes as UK consumer demand for the healthy option continues to surge – now estimated to be worth £14.4 million to the UK Grocery retail market.
For over 20 years, Highland Game has successfully increased awareness and sales of venison. The business is a daily supplier to ASDA, Aldi, Coop, Lidl, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose, as well as to manufacturers and distributors to the catering and restaurant trade around the UK and in continental Europe. These include Smithfield Market, Costco, Booker, Brakes and well-established European wholesalers.
The news comes ahead of Eat Scottish Venison Day (Friday 4 September) which aims to promote the venison as a healthy, sustainable alternative to beef, lamb, and pork. The deal with Tesco extends Highland Game’s partnership with the retailer and is worth £3 million in sales per annum.
The fillet is the leanest and most tender cut of venison and is a healthy, sustainable meat protein that is twice as likely to be eaten for health reasons than other red meats’ according to research. Consumers are now more interested in knowing where their food comes from and are looking for more healthy red meat alternatives. Gram for gram, venison contains less fat than a skinless chicken breast and is an excellent source of iron, delivering more than any other farmed meat.
Highland Game is committed to increasing food-at-home consumer demand for venison by growing the availability of the healthy meat option in supermarkets across the UK. According to research, half of those eating venison at home bought it in a supermarket compared to 25% from a butcher, and almost half (47%) said that they would be more likely to choose venison if it was more easily available in supermarkets.
James Lamont, Local Sourcing Buying Manager for Tesco Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with Highland Game to offer Tesco customers across the UK new and exciting products. In particular we are launching a 3-week special offer on a top-quality venison cut which I am confident customers will love. Highly rated by top chefs, this leanest and most tender of British venison cuts re-enforces our aim to promote healthy choices and the best quality whilst supporting local businesses.”
Evidence indicates that ongoing promotional marketing of venison has been key to persuading new consumers to try it as an alternative. Meanwhile the taste of venison came out as the top driver at 52%, while 34% were attracted to quality and over 22% admitted that they would buy it as a special treat.
Managing Director and Founder of Highland Game, Christian Nissen, commented: “By growing our retail platform, we are diversifying and expanding opportunities for the UK venison supply chain. Like almost all sectors, we continue to face the very severe challenge of recovering from the impact COVID-19 has had both on operations and on consumer behaviour. During these unprecedented times we will only succeed in our mission to put venison on more plates, in Scotland and around the UK, when we work together as a retail and wholesale sector. That’s good news for consumers and businesses alike. Our wild venison fillets are an exciting addition to our current product range and offer UK consumers the very finest cut of naturally healthy venison and ultimately the best taste of Scotland.
“While we still face extremely challenging market conditions, demand is increasing year on year for venison products and we’ve been working hard to widen that appeal. There is a growing army of health-conscious consumers looking for a sustainable, low-fat alternative red meat and this is a significant opportunity for our business. Highland Game is increasing its market penetration through retail promotions with the direct aim of making it more affordable for consumers to sample and enjoy.
“The foodservice side of our business has almost been completely wiped out due to COVID-19, however we know how successful we can be when it comes to selling top quality venison into restaurants and hotel chains. We are committed to working with the sector as it recovers and have exciting plans in the pipeline to help grow demand for venison products in the future.”