There is a growing demand for Scottish meat, after a Dundee-based venison supplier secured new deals with two leading national supermarkets.
Highland Game has raised its competitive stake in the UK market after securing increased distribution with retail partners Tesco and Morrisons worth over £1 million in sales to the company over the next 12 months.
Founded in 1997 by Danish entrepreneur Christian Nissen, the group has a turnover of £13 million and has grown to become the largest supplier of wild venison produce in the UK, processing up to 70,000 wild deer a year and employing over 100 staff.
The majority (90%) of the wild venison is sourced within Scotland, of which approximately half is from the newly formed public body Forestry and Land Scotland with the balance coming from more than 200 private estates.
The new deal with Tesco extends Highland Game’s partnership with the retailer in Scotland and will see the company’s core products, Venison Steaks (250g, £6.95) and Venison Grillsteaks (300g, £2.75) go on sale in stores across England and Wales from Monday (23 September) following a successful trial. Meanwhile, on 7 October Highland Game will launch their new, individual short-crust wild Scottish venison pies (230g, £3.00) in Tesco stores in Scotland.
James Lamont, local sourcing buying manager for Tesco Scotland, said: ‘We are always looking for opportunities to serve our customers new and exciting products. We are delighted to be working with Highland Game to offer Tesco customers in England and Wales these delicious, quality Scottish venison products and we are confident our customers will love them.’
Responding to strong demand Morrisons has significantly increased its order for Highland Game branded wild venison products as well as Own-Label The Best Loin of Scottish Wild Venison (available to pre-order soon) following a successful Christmas in 2018.
Managing director and founder of Highland Game, Christian Nissen, said: ‘We’ve had a very clear vision from the start; to make quality venison products easily accessible for the whole nation. These new deals with Tesco and Morrisons mean that for the first time, Highland Game venison will be available in almost every UK postcode, from Shetland right down to Lands’ End. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support and collaboration of all the partners in our supply chain, from landowners and public bodies right through to logistics and our customers.’
Venison is naturally low in fat, high in protein and rich in iron and B-vitamins, making it the perfect healthy alternative to beef, pork, and chicken. Highland Game’s range includes pure lines of Venison Steak, Diced Venison and easy cook Venison Sausages, Burgers, Grillsteaks and Meatballs. The company is currently working on new product innovation to drive forward more healthy and sustainable easy cook products for 2020, which will allow an even wider range of consumers to enjoy this low fat and nutrient packed produce.
Also from Monday, all Highland Game products will be packaged using recyclable silver trays. The move away from using black plastic packaging, which is coloured using carbon pigments that make it difficult for recycling systems to pick up, could save up to 40 tonnes of black plastic from going to landfill every year.
Christian continued: ‘As a small company, we react to change and put new processes in place very quickly. Our switch to recyclable silver trays across our whole product range from Monday is an exciting example of packaging innovation, which will have a real and lasting impact on the environment.’
When Highland Game launched in 1997 roughly 95% of domestically produced venison was exported overseas, with the rest sold through select butchers and delicatessens. Today, 70% of Highland Game’s produce is sold domestically to key retailers including Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and the Co-operative.
To meet the increase in popularity of venison over the last five to ten years, Highland Game and its partners have invested in the maintenance of a sustainable and reliable supply of wild venison, and in plant, machinery and human resource. Meanwhile, the company has boosted its technical, operational and marketing expertise to assist in sourcing new market opportunities.
Highland Game is a certified BRC AA and Scottish Quality Wild Venison (SQWV) processor, which means it upholds strict industry standards from ‘hill to plate’ to ensure the end product enjoyed by the consumer has been procured, handled and processed to the highest standards.