ANNUAL REVIEW, CHAIRMAN’S STATEMENT
8th February 2019
Ivan Shenkman, Chairman
This has been an astonishing inaugural year for the British Game Alliance. The BGA has achieved far more than the founding members believed was possible in the early stages.
We are well on the way to achieving many of our initial objectives and planning many exciting developments for the future.
We now have over 400 shoots across the UK signed up as members; a number that is growing exponentially with more signing up every week. From a standing start, part way through 2018, we are now more than likely to hit and exceed our target of 500 shoots within the first 12 months of actual operation, by the end of April, and a target of more than 1,250 shoots thereafter.
In addition to absolute shoot numbers we also have several initiatives planned for 2019 to further broaden the appeal not only to the large commercial shoots but, as importantly, also to the smaller and family run population that currently accounts for around 30% of our membership. We need to ensure that joining the BGA is as relevant to every shoot as the right strain of pheasant. Our vision is for it to be a body that every shoot wants, and has reason, to join.
ASSURANCE SCHEME AND STANDARDS
We have published our Shoot Standards, set out the auditing process, trained the relevant personnel and started our Assurance Scheme in earnest from October 2018.
Now that the Scheme has been established we are planning to continue to refine, develop and mature the process based on early feedback and carry out around 250 audits over the course of the 2019/20 season; working jointly with our shoot members to help raise standards across the board.
We appreciate that more progress is required in eliminating bad practices, as the media around recent events has highlighted, but I believe we are making real headway in this contentious area, as more governing bodies look at the BGA as a way to work with the shooting community as opposed to against it.
We are also now looking into the inclusion of game farms under our Assurance Scheme this coming season, enabling us to extend accreditation from egg to table, a very powerful step to progressing the supply chain, its traceability and assurance. The assurance this will give shoots, on so many levels, will be fantastic – from disease control and antibiotic usage, to source of egg/chick.
There is clearly further work to be done with the likes of the Food Standards Agency, National Parks and DEFRA etc but again, a solid base towards self regulation has been established.
DRIVING DEMAND FOR BGA SHOT GAME
As you are aware, creating a better market for shot game is also an overriding BGA objective. We believe it is imperative that every shot bird finds its way into the food chain and BGA registered shoots once again get paid for their game; without a value we are only one step away from more severe scrutiny.
Our strategy to achieve this goal comprises;
- Opening new markets for BGA game domestically through new product development, engaging retailers, food service as well as food manufacturers/brands.
- Developing new overseas markets, reducing our reliance on Europe.
- Giving quality assurance to the end product through our Assurance Scheme.
- Raising awareness of the benefits of game in tandem with other game marketing campaigns aimed at the consumer.
- Creating more consistent routes to market through assured processors, along with our minimum quality specification for BGA game on the shelves.
- Providing support and innovation to help develop new products with an all year round, not just seasonal appeal.
As we have set out elsewhere in this report, in our Commercial and Marketing updates, we have made tangible progress on the foundational aspects of all of the above. The key building blocks are now in place; our experienced sales team, Eat Wild Campaign, social media footprint, point of sale kits, Ambassadors are all in place. We are in constructive conversation with the supply side and the demand side to educate, stimulate and satisfy demand for BGA shot game, helping to solve problems that have historically blocked the way.
The creation of a better market will not happen overnight but we absolutely believe that the assembled team has the skills, experience and determination to achieve this objective. This is where our real expertise lies.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GUN LEVY
To have launched, planned, set up and started to execute around all of these initiatives on a bare minimum of financial resource, whilst keeping the shoot subscription monies as low as possible, has been a challenge and only possible through the generosity of some significant donors.
Looking to 2019, it is a key priority to establish the BGA on a more secure financial footing. To this end, we urge every member shoot to introduce the Voluntary Gun Levy at the suggested rate of 50p per bird. We will only be able to deliver on the above objectives if the Gun Levy becomes the accepted practice. From those that implemented it last year there was a fantastic take up and we have a very clear format as to how this would work for you. Further details on this are contained in our Financial Update.
HARD WORK BY MANY
Looking back over the past year, I am impressed by what has been done by a small day-to-day team in such a short time. From Tom Adams’s original vision, backed by his enormous energy and courage, to the creation of a marketing board and regulatory body, with teeth, to the development of an organisation that enjoys the support of all the key shooting related bodies; CA, BASC, GWCT, MA, SLE, SACS, NGO, GFA, CLA & CFT plus almost 500 members accounting for roughly 30% of shot game. This is some achievement from a standing start.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both our Board of Directors and our Advisory Board who have freely given so much of their time and expertise to this cause and without whom we wouldn’t have made so much progress so quickly. Our Advisory Board is made up of the shooting organisations and shoot owner representatives whose buy-in has been key.
It remains our vision to replace the role of the Board of Directors with our Advisory Board once the BGA has been established and that it becomes an organisation solely owned by, and run for the benefit of, the community of shoots that it serves. To that end, as you can read elsewhere in this report, we plan to convert the BGA into a mutual organisation owned by its membership.
As well as hard work done by the day-to-day team, Board of Directors and Advisory Board, it has also been a collaborative effort with our shoot members and donors. With your help, and collective voice, we have shone a spotlight on shooting in a positive and meaningful way. Together, we are bringing badly needed self-regulation to an industry that is ever more scrutinised and under pressure.
Importantly, those in the shooting community have responded positively to this clarion call and have become engaged and focused on the realisation that action needs to be taken if we are to ensure our grandchildren can enjoy shooting as we know it. It would be remiss of me, therefore, not to thank you, our members and donors, for your active support, financial contribution, for sharing our vision for the future of game shooting and for your love of the sport. We could not have achieved so much in such a short space of time without you.
British Game Alliance
To read the full End of Season Report please click here.