Demand For Scottish Venison Outstrips Supply

A new group has been established to increase venison production in Scotland. Chaired by Scotland Food & Drink, and encompassing key stakeholders, the group will produce a “roadmap” to ensure growing demand for venison from consumers in the UK is met from


Wed, 02 May 2012


Scottish Venison Partnership



0131 445 5570


SF&D and Scottish Venison Partnership

Retail sales of venison across the whole UK rose from £32M in 2006 to £43M in 2009, an increase of over 34 per cent. Only 50 tonnes of the 3500 tonnes of UK venison production comes from farms. The bulk of venison comes from the annual wild cull. However, with cull numbers having dropped in recent years, imports of venison from New Zealand have increased.

The roadmap is being developed by a Scotland Food & Drink led group including the Scottish Venison Partnership, Scottish Land & Estates, NFU Scotland, SAOS, SAC and the James Hutton Institute.

The new Scottish Venison Strategy Group aims to grow production of Scottish farmed venison, reduce reliance on imports and demonstrate the role that venison can play within sustainable rural development. It is estimated that an additional 1200 tonnes (25,000 farmed deer) per annum will be required to meet growing demand.

Initial steps identified as part of the roadmap include commissioning research to develop understanding of the current and future markets and consumer perception, and the setting up of monitor farm units to help encourage new entrants to the sector and demonstrate successes. Additionally, an extensive communications plan will be developed in order to demonstrate to potential producers the benefits and funding opportunities.

James Withers, Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive said;

“The maths here is easy.  Scotland isn’t producing enough venison. Wild deer cull numbers are falling whilst demand for Scottish venison is increasing. The only way to meet that demand, without increasing our reliance on imports, is to ensure that production rises. We want to encourage livestock farmers and other land managers to consider this business opportunity. The farmgate returns are very good on deer, but there are barriers to consider, such as processing capacity and fencing costs.

“The sustainability of our food and drink industry, and our rural areas, is crucial to industry development and I believe venison has a significant part to play. The Scotland Food & Drink Industry Strategy is built on opportunities premium, provenance and health markets and venison captures all three of these attributes.”

Stephen Gibbs, Chairman, the Scottish Venison Partnership, said:

“Increasing farmed venison production is the only viable solution. It will take time, commitment and support, but it is the only way.  We know that the UK market is exceptionally buoyant, and we know that our game dealers are anxious to source more home produced quality product while continuing to import as market growth continues. That demand, in my view, is not going to go away.”

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“Scotland’s natural larder is world renowned, offering consumers a fantastic range of premium foods. We need to increase our farmed venison production by a third to keep up with demand. Our venison is another high quality and delicious product that is increasingly desired by consumers at home and abroad.

 “The future success of Scottish venison depends on increasing production in a sustainable manner. That’s why we are working closely with Scotland Food & Drink and the Venison Group to ensure we exploit this market opportunity.

 “The creation of the Scottish Venison Strategy Group brings together all the key players involved. I’m confident that improved collaboration and communication within the supply chain can ensure Scottish venison production is increased to match the growing demand at home and abroad.”


  • In numbers:
  • Estimated number of deer (all species) in Scotland 800,000 – 900,000 (England has a similar estimated population)
  • Annual venison outturn - 3500 tonnes
  • Annual export from UK - 1000 tonnes (mainly roe deer and UK consumption is largely red deer)
  • Imports to UK from New Zealand direct c 800 tonnes (plus additional from/through Europe).  Total imports to UK vary but in region of 1000 tonnes per annum. 
  • Only 50 tonnes of venison comes from Scottish deer farms
  • Retail sales of venison across the whole UK rose from £32M in 2006 to £43M in 2009, an increase of over 34 per cent (Mintel) and subsequent to this at an even steeper rate according to more recent reports
  • The two major game dealers/processors handling Scottish venison imported 25,000 carcases in 2011 to meet shortfalls
  • Scotland needs to increase production volume by at least one third (ie 1200 tonnes per annum) to keep up with demand – while still importing product
  • Venison volumes from wild red deer are declining from a cull of 64,000 in 2005/06 to 54,000 in 2009/10.
  • A farmed deer on average produces 40 – 45 kilos venison
  • 25 farmed deer produce 1 tonne of venison
  • Scotland needs an additional 1200 tonnes from deer farms to keep pace (as wild production from red deer is static / declining)
  • That means 25,000 more deer per annum
  • The Scottish Venison Action Group consists of representatives from:
    • Scotland Food & Drink (chaired by James Withers)
    • SAC
    • SAOS
    • NFU Scotland
    • Scottish Government
    • Scottish Venison Partnership
    • Scottish Land & Estates
    • Hutton Research Institute (Glensaugh) 
    • Funding is available to new entrants through the SRDP ‘Diversification of Rural Enterprises’ option, which lists deer as eligible, and discussion is underway with Government to consider other routes of support for new deer farm enterprises. Currently LFA support can meet up to 50 per cent of eligible costs, or 40 per cent for non-LFA applications.

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