Venison Recipe PastaAs the shooting season comes to an end on 1 February, the market for wild game is at an all-time high, says Jack Knott of the Countryside Alliance’s Game to Eat campaign.

Despite a challenging season weather-wise, the market for, and interest in, wild game meats – from pheasant and partridge to venison, rabbit and duck – is in fine health and game is joining beef, lamb and pork as a regular on the nation’s plates.

The availability of game at major supermarkets has increased greatly this year. The 2015/16 season has seen the Iceland chain start selling grouse from Scottish firm Kezie Foods at £8.99 a brace, and Morrisons launch a new label – Wild as Nature Intended with Yorkshire Game.   Highland Game has secured a deal with Aldi to sell its products in the chain’s Scottish stores, and Yorkshire Game also achieved new orders from Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s and have been rewarded with a 10% rise in turnover as a result of investing in state-of-the-art processing equipment.

This breakthrough to the mainstream has led to game being recognised as one of the top 50 investment markets to watch by Mintel, the global provider of market research, with annual UK sales rising over the £100m mark for the first time.   The Mintel research shows that one in four Brits has eaten game in the last six months and a further 41% are willing to try it in the future.   The report concludes that the sales forecast will reach $143 million by 2020.

Jack Knott said: “This is a very welcome and over-due recognition of game as a healthy and easy alternative to other meats.   As consumers search for increasing reliable and healthy foods, wild game is at the forefront of the market.   Supermarkets and butchers are filling their shelves with an increasing number of wild game cuts and ready-meals which allow customers to ease into cooking game, keeping it simple yet tasty.”

Stephen Crouch, chairman of the National Game Dealers Association, said: “This season has seen strong sales, with a definite move towards larger distributers, resulting in plenty more visibility on the supermarket shelves.   The game market certainly looks strong for the future.”