On Wednesday 24th April at BGA member-shoot North Lodge Farm in Nottinghamshire, 160 shoot and landowners joined a selection of the UK’s leading organisations, ready to discuss sustainable shooting, the game meat market and a range of issues the industry is facing today.
Organised and hosted by Chris and Julia Butterfield of North Lodge Estate, the talks were accompanied with a game lunch – courtesy of the Country Food Trust and North Lodge Farms Gamekeepers’ wife – including a range of game meat canapés, game curry and a game casserole.
Tom Adams, Managing Director of the BGA was joined on the industry panel by Tim Furbank, Chairman of Oakbank Ltd, Austin Weldon, GWCT Game & Wildlife Advisor Central England, Phil Burtt, The BelviorEstate, Tristan Kirk of Lincolnshire Game Ltd, Liam Bell, Chairman of National Gamekeepers Organisation and Chris Horne, Managing Director of GunsOnPegs and Trustee of The Country Food Trust.
Each of the organisations gave an update from the industry, ranging from self-regulation in shooting to wildlife management and game processing.
Following on from a talk from Tim Furbank of Oakbank Ltd, BGA MD Tom Adams gave a detailed update on the progress of the BGA and its first season, including commercial targets, exports, shoot audits and game marketing. As the official marketing board for the UK game industry and pioneers of the introduction of the game quality assurance scheme, Tom focussed on how a reliable assurance scheme goes hand in hand for shoots and retailers, confirming best practice and giving confidence to the end product entering the food chain.
Interesting questions arose from the room, including the results of the first round of BGA shoot audits – highlighting a range of small common non-compliances such as the need for chillers to ensure that the game is properly stored for consumption and shoots ensuring that they are registered as a food business. As the only unregulated food sector in the U.K., Tristan Kirk of Lincolnshire Game, one of the UK’s leading game processors, explained that the appetite for game in the UK is huge and the need for an independently run assurance scheme to give retailers confidence in game meat is the all-important factor.
The game market featured strongly in each of the talks with the resounding conclusion from the panel of organisations being that, if shoots were to make a few small changes to the way that they run their shoot and process their game, the industry would have a sizeable change in perceptions by the following season.
The BGA would like to thank Chris and Julia Butterfield for kindly hosting the event, to the fellow panellists and the guests who came to listen to what was a stimulating talk on issues the shooting industry is facing now.