British Game Alliance launched
On 21 May at the Westminster Kingsway College in London, the members of the British Game Alliance (BGA) spoke to some of the leading members of the shooting community about the current state of the game meat industry, while introducing what is hoped to be a groundbreaking nationwide initiative.
What is the BGA?
The British Game Alliance is the official marketing board for the UK game industry. As a not-forprofit organisation, it will be promoting the value of all feathered game to the public while exploring new markets at home and overseas. Through its ‘British Game’ assurance scheme, the BGA aims to ensure the provenance of game meets rigorous and ethical standards, and by nurturing deeper relationships with the food industry, the BGA will give good food seekers access to tasty and healthy British game.
The British Game Alliance is not aiming to compete with other game initiatives; it simply wishes to compliment, unite and fill the gap of a much-needed marketing board for game. The BGA will work on a national scale taking inspiration from Scottish Venison, Welsh Lamb and British Beef, who have created well-loved brands that have found demand around the world.
The British Game Alliance seeks to unite each aspect of the game shooting community for: Birds fully adapted to the wild The benefit of the wildlife and our woodlands, landscapes and love of great food Healthy game, at a healthy price Shoots, agents and game dealers The shooting community and the general public
For shoots and agents, the BGA promises to: Work tirelessly to develop new markets for your game output Increase the value of your game by improving perceptions and increasing demand Assure your clients of your high standards through the use of the ‘British Game’ stamp Provide support and advice on all game-related issues Work for all shoots of all sizes.
The BGA’s tiered membership fee has been designed to make it fair and accessible to even the smallest shoots. Participating shoots will offer their paying Guns a voluntary levy of 50p per bird on their invoice or balance payment. This is an opportunity for the Guns to contribute to the fighting fund.
The evening culminated with speeches from Simon Hart, MP and chairman of the Countryside Alliance, who encouraged the community to act with self-regulation while it still can: “The reality is that whether we approve or agree with it or not, shooting has never been under greater scrutiny.
“The message we got from No. 10 and DEFRA was that we must embrace self-regulation as enthusiastically as we can, because if not, someone else will regulate you.”
Ivan Shenkman, chairman of the British Game Alliance, continued by speaking openly about the relationships between the shooting community, the government, game dealers, shoot agents and the general public.
Finally, Lord James Percy, British Game Alliance patron, discussed the current landscape of the shooting industry and its effect on the game meat industry: “If there wasn’t a pretty major issue, you would not be here today, nor would there be a need for forming the BGA. One thing I am absolutely clear on in my mind – if a bird is not going to be eaten, it cannot be shot. End of. That is the basic principle of our sport.”
Sir John Randall, environment special advisor to Teresa May, listened carefully to the BGA’s proposals and made it very clear he is keen to see progress in the area of self-regulation and standards. He pointed out the obvious risks to shooting should standards in the field, as well as the processing of shot game, not stand up to stringent scrutiny. He was also encouraged to hear that all the major organisations involved in game shooting were working together. George Eustice, minister of state at DEFRA said: “I am delighted to support the launch of the BGA as it helps ensure the highest standards of welfare in the rearing and sale of game meat as healthy, free-range and affordable. It is also encouraging to see efforts being made to identify new markets for game at home and abroad.”
D’Arcy Wyvill, custodian at Constable Burton Hall shared his support: “The Constable Burton shoot has signed up as a shoot member already, and I will be doing my bit in the north of England to refer the BGA on to other shoots.”
Tristan Kirk and Simon Wilkinson of Lincolnshire Game spoke highly of the new initiative on the evening. They said: “As one of the largest producers of game in the UK, we will be supporting the BGA by signing up and encouraging all of our estates to sign up. We are keen to get the BGA assurance symbol onto our products.”
Jose Souto, senior chef lecturer in culinary arts at the Westminster Kingsway College added: “In this day and age when consumers, chefs and the retail sector scrutinize, quite rightly, all aspects of our food, we need to have an assurance of the good husbandry, quality and a traceability for all our game, as we have with all other meats.”
The BGA board and team