There is a lot of concern among game shooters about the status of lead ammunition, the BGA’s position on lead ammunition and the possibility of birds shot with lead not being accepted by dealers this coming season. We are not aware of any processors choosing not to accept lead-shot birds this season, nor would we suggest anyone take that step, but it is still worth addressing the worry that we know is out there.
Perhaps the most important point to note is that all processors and dealers are entirely independent of the BGA. We work together, we collaborate where we can, but we would never try to tell game processors what to do with their businesses. So while I can lay out the BGA position, individual businesses will make their own decisions about how to approach the issue of lead.
The BGA position has always been driven by the market, because fundamentally we promote, develop and assure game as food. The reality is that more and more stockists and suppliers are talking about lead-free game, so at the BGA we have a responsibility to communicate that back to the rest of the supply chain. This isn’t about politics and it isn’t about science, this is about consumer concern and whether they are right or wrong, retailers increasingly feel they need to move away from lead.
We know that the shooting sector is not yet ready to supply the market with lead-free birds. Happily, very few suppliers are asking for this right away. We work with retailers and other food businesses to help them understand the need for patience in this area, as cartridge manufacturers develop and bring to market their lead-free products, and encourage retailers not to make commitments to non-lead ammunition until the market is ready to deliver.
In the meantime we are trying to support each link of the supply chain through the transition to lead alternatives by sourcing and sharing information. If a stockist wants lead-free game right now, we share that information with processors. We are starting to gather information on how many of our Member Shoots are considering going lead-free or already have, so we can help processors source birds should they need them. And we are hearing from cartridge manufacturers so we can keep everyone updated on the progress in bringing alternatives to the market.
Our view remains that this is a transition we will go through together over the coming few years, and we will do what we can to support every part of the game meat supply chain through the change.