SHOOT­ING IN WALES: Wild­fowl­ing

He­lena re­ports from the Game-to-Eat event in Wales, where cam­paign­ers spoke of the need to take game meat mar­ket­ing as seriously as those work­ing in other ar­eas of food pro­duc­tion

Sporting Shooter - - Contents - WITH HE­LENA VEN­ABLES

As I write this in early De­cem­ber, my Face­book page is full of game recipes and pic­tures of de­li­cious meals us­ing pheas­ant, rab­bit and veni­son. Hence I was happy to read that the Coun­try­side Al­liance (CA) has been busy pro­mot­ing game meat and cook­ery to Welsh assem­bly mem­bers.

On 22 Novem­ber, Rachel Evans, the CA’s Wales director, ran a Game-to-Eat event at the Welsh assem­bly in Cardiff Bay as part of the cel­e­bra­tions for Great Bri­tish Game Week. Assem­bly mem­bers and in­vited guests were able to try Welsh game and also see it pre­pared and cooked at the event, the third of its kind held by the CA at the assem­bly.

The event re­ceived cross-party sup­port from assem­bly mem­bers Paul Davies (Welsh Con­ser­va­tives), Neil Hamil­ton (UKIP), Mike Hedges (Labour), Si­mon Thomas (Plaid Cymru) and Kirsty Wil­liams (Welsh Lib­eral Democrats).

Politi­cians, jour­nal­ists, assem­bly mem­bers and sup­port­ers were treated to a wealth of de­li­cious game cook­ery by Roger Stevens, an award­win­ning chef of the Lass­wade Ho­tel in Llan­wr­tyd Wells, and Ja­son Lloyd, ex­ec­u­tive chef of Charl­ton House Cater­ing and his team. Game dishes on offer in­cluded rab­bit casse­role, duck and pheas­ant Thai curry, veni­son burg­ers and stir-fried par­tridge.

The game was sup­plied by Izzy Hosk­ing of Pen­nant Val­ley Game. Izzy is a keen shot who has es­tab­lished a suc­cess­ful game busi­ness in the heart of mid Wales tak­ing lo­cally shot game and turn­ing it into high-qual­ity game prod­ucts for sale at farm­ers’ mar­kets, farm shops, pubs and restau­rants. Izzy gave sev­eral butch­ery demon­stra­tions to guests at the event who were able to pick up some help­ful tips on how to get the quarry to the plate in record time.

Rachel Evans com­mented: “Shoot­ing pro­vides a vi­tal fi­nan­cial and so­cial life­line to much of ru­ral Wales. It is hugely im­por­tant that we pro­mote Welsh game at the heart of pol­i­tics here in Cardiff Bay.”

Shoot­ing pro­vides £75 mil­lion to the Welsh econ­omy and sup­ports the equiv­a­lent of 2,400 full-time jobs. Hav­ing cross-party sup­port in the assem­bly sends a clear mes­sage about how im­por­tant shoot­ing is for Wales.

Jack Knott, Game-to-Eat’s cam­paign man­ager, added: “The chefs demon­strated a vast va­ri­ety of ways to cook game which man­aged to in­spire even the most ac­com­plished chefs among our guests. It was a Welsh show­case of ev­ery­thing shoot­ing and we were re­warded with a fan­tas­tic turnout by assem­bly mem­bers and Coun­try­side Al­liance mem­bers and sup­port­ers.”

Tim Bon­ner, the CA’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, ac­knowl­edges that there are, how­ever, two big is­sues im­pact­ing the game mar­ket: “Game is some­thing that peo­ple want to eat, but there re­mains a cul­tural bar­rier to the prepa­ra­tion and cook­ing of game in the home be­yond those of us who reg­u­larly shoot and eat game. Put sim­ply, peo­ple will eat and en­joy game at an event like this, or or­der it in a restau­rant, but cook­ing it them­selves re­mains a step too far for most.”

In­ter­est­ingly, he points out that an in­creas­ing sup­ply of game, com­bined with the dif­fi­cul­ties of in­te­grat­ing such a niche prod­uct into main­stream food pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing, has seen the value of shot birds fall. It re­mains crit­i­cal, that ev­ery bird that is shot en­ters the food chain.

Tim con­tin­ued: “We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to eat our share and there are many great busi­nesses sell­ing game prod­ucts at the lo­cal scale such as the bril­liant Pen­nant Val­ley Game. The Al­liance has done a huge amount to in­crease the mar­ket for game, but clearly more is needed and we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a game mar­ket­ing board to un­cover new mar­kets for game prod­ucts in the UK and around the world.

“Nearly ev­ery area of food pro­duc­tion has such a body tasked with pro­mot­ing their prod­ucts, sup­ported by gov­ern­ment and funded by pro­ducer levies. We be­lieve that the time has come for us to take the mar­ket­ing of game seriously and com­mit as much ef­fort to the sale of game as we do to the sale of shoot­ing.”

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