eating game



Women seeking healthy option lift supermarket sales of game meatsValerie Elliott, Consumer Editor
Britons, especially women, have developed a taste for game as a healthy, low-cholesterol meat.

Sales of venison, pheasant and grouse soared 46 per cent to a market value of £57 million from 2004 to last year. Sales are forecast to increase by a further 47 per cent by 2011 and to be worth £84 million.

Game’s popularity has been helped by the enthusiasm of celebrity chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Most consumers say that their first taste of game was in a pub or restaurant, which inspired them to buy game to cook and eat at home.

Four in ten now eat game and a further one in ten is ready to try it. But it is still regarded as a fashion for the upper and middle classes.

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The growth in sales of game is exceeding those of traditional red meats, poultry and fish, and is mainly down to the range now available in supermarkets, which has grown 133 per cent in four years. It remains a niche market, however, and is tiny comparted with the £3 billion value of poultry and £2.9 billion of red meat.

Future growth is expected to be linked to the development of familiar foods using game. Venison, for example, used to be available only in roasting joints but today is found in sausages, burgers, steaks and ready meals, without the fat content of beef or pork.

The trend has also been driven by the success of the Game-to-Eat campaign, which was launched by the Countryside Alliance with funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Mintel, the market analyst, predicts that the growing interest in game, farmers’ markets and local food will also create a boom in fishing and shooting.

The company said that an unexpected hero had emerged in the form of the Second World War bomber pilot, W.M.W. (Willie) Fowler, whose Countryman’s Cookbook is fast becoming a bestseller. His descriptions of how to cook game, and also how to shoot, skin, pluck and gut it, have struck a chord with modern cooks. The first edition 40 years ago was a flop, but a version republished last year has sold 10,000 copies.

Venison appears to be the game meat of choice and accounts for 47 per cent of all sales, while pheasant, partridge and grouse make up 31 per cent. Other game, such as hare and wild boar, completes the sector.

David Bird, senior market analyst at Mintel, said: “Today’s growing concern about the environment and the negative impact of mass-produced food is changing the types of food we buy, with many of us opting for food that is organic, locally sourced or bought from a farmers’ market. As game comes from free-ranging animals and is wild and natural, this market is clearly placed to take full advantage of this trend. People are clearly becoming more adventurous and are prepared to give these meats a go.”

Tim Bonner, spokesman for the alliance, said that it was important to drum up demand for game because there were more birds available.

“Shooting is one of the fastest growing businesses in the countryside with 70,000 jobs now relying on it,” he said. “Creating new markets for healthy game products is crucial to ensuring that growth continues.”

Hunting, shooting and eating

— Game includes grouse, guinea fowl, pheasant, partridge, wood pigeon, wild duck, venison, wild boar, rabbit, hare, snipe and woodcock

— Also in the sector are ptarmigan, coot/moorhen, golden plover and curlew, but in Mintel’s views sales of these are negligible. It is legal to shoot these species, except for curlew, which is protected in England, Scotland and Wales, although it may still be shot lawfully in Northern Ireland

— About 20 million to 22 million game birds are released in the UK every year, a fourfold increase since the mid1960s. Four million to five million are partridge, with the rest pheasant

— Pheasant is low in fat, containing 1.2g per 100g, and partridge 1g, compared with chicken, 1.5g, and turkey, 1.1g

— Pheasant and partridge are high in selenium, which helps to protect cells from free radicals. Pheasant has 0.37mg per kg, partridge 0.43mg, compared with lamb, 0.08mg, beef, 0.04mg, and chicken, 0.1mg

— Pheasant has 119 calories per 100g, partridge 112g, compared with chicken, 105g, and turkey, 111g

— Total supply of wild venison is about 3,000 tonnes a year

— Venison is low in fat, containing 1g per 100g, compared with beef, 11g, and lamb, 9.9g

— Venison has the highest iron content of all meats, 2.4mg per 100g, compared with beef, 1.4mg, and chicken, 0.2mg

— Venison has 104 calories per 100g, compared with lamb, 172g, and beef, 191g

Source: Game-to-Eat nutritional research 2006, by Leatherhead Food Intl laboratory analysis
Genius! The Times prints a report on game two weeks after the end of the principal game season!

I'd thought from the thread title it was going to be about an eating game :D

Your forfeit is another plum tomato....

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