Game is starting to return to our plates, as a new market analysis by Mintel shows a 9% rise in UK sales in 2014, and projects this trend to keep rising. It is categorised as any wild animal that is traditionally hunted for sport, ranging from small birds and rabbits, to larger animals such as boar. The most common forms of game served in the UK are gamebirds such as grouse, and venison.
The boom in the sale of venison is thought to be the main driver behind the increase of interest in game, as its sales soared 400% last year, according to the report. This is largely a result of the fact venison offers a much healthier alternative to red meat, as it contains just as much protein as beef but is significantly less fatty.
The seasonality of game and its unique taste in comparison to farmed meat adds to its appeal, as chef Mark Hix of Hix comments: “the fun of eating game birds is that they each have their own unique flavour. The whole process is a bit of a ceremony, those delicious accompaniments like the bread sauce, jellies and game chips (parsnip crisps) make it a unique dining experience”.
Despite this many chefs are dubious to include game in their menus, due to its lack of consistency in stock, and a fear that the meat may still contain shot. It could also be considered a controversial addition, as the hunting process causes distress and a painful death for the animal.
The £97 million market is still dwarfed by the £1.7 billion poultry market, as there is a respectively limited number of restaurants serving game, and its high-end price tag limiting the amount of people that can afford it. But with approximately 40% of people expressing an interest to try various types of game, there is a clear opportunity to capitalise on this growth.
Cooking with game can invite certain risks, given that there may be a higher chance of parasites in wild animals, and the lead in shot residue can be dangerous to pregnant women and children. It is important that all food handlers are effectively trained to be aware of the risks of all meat and that all food safety and health & safety compliance processes are in place.
To access effective food safety and health & safety resources that help prevent easily avoidable food safety issues, contact Food Alert on 020 7244 1900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Keen to try game? The season kicks off on the Glorious Twelfth (August 12th)! Here are some restaurants cooking up some delicious game menus this season:
The menu features an interesting and delicious combination of Indian flavours with venison and red deer.
This year they join the game season a little later, on the 19th of August, to allow their grouse to hang and enjoy their fullest flavours.
This year The Shed are collaborating with The London Shooting club to bring you fresh birds straight from Yorkshire.
Owned by Mark Hix, who last year published a book to perfect game cooking, you can be sure that your game here will be prepared to perfection.
This year Bibendum launches a series of special menus to showcase British game, from traditional roasted grouse through to woodcock brain.