Will switching to steel mean more game in supermarkets?

PUBLISHED: 11:15 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:15 15 May 2020

Game dealers may be asking shoots for lead-free birds sooner than you think

Game dealers may be asking shoots for lead-free birds sooner than you think

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We talk to Steve Crouch of Hampshire Game about the pressure being put on game dealers to supply lead-free meat, and how this will drive the switch to steel

Game dealers may be asking shoots for lead-free birds sooner than you thinkGame dealers may be asking shoots for lead-free birds sooner than you think

WIll the planned five year phasing out of lead shot mean that game meat becomes more attractive to supermarkets? Will it help to bolster the game meat market and ensure we get game onto the general public’s dinner tables?

Steve Crouch of Hampshire Game, which supplies several major supermarkets, believes the real timeframe for making the switch will need to be more like 18 months, not five years, as he explains: “Now that the supermarkets know we have viable alternatives to lead shot, they are already demanding we use it,” he says. “This pressure from the supermarkets has been there for years, they have been pushing and pushing for us to not use lead. Now the genie’s out of the bottle, so to speak, with regards to the availability of lead alternatives, those that I speak to say they want us to be supplying them with lead-free meat from this September! I managed to get them to agree to wait until there is consumer confidence [ie. among the shooters] in the non-lead alternatives, but that has probably only bought us an extra year.

“I feel that the organisations have been a little bit premature in their statement. If they’d spoken to us [game dealers] we could have explained to them how the ‘supermarket brain’ works and avoided this situation.

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“Over the next 12 months the shooting industry needs to get acclimatised to using a lead-free cartridge, because soon the supermarkets simply won’t buy any game that isn’t lead-free – unless we discover there are huge welfare issues with it, then they will give us a stay of execution. But Waitrose has already said that from this September all its game will be lead-free, so a game dealer somewhere has already made that promise to them. This change is coming – and I agree it needs to – but only when it works.

Tom Adams, Managing Director of the BGA, added: “The BGA believes the transition away from lead is necessary in order to continue a viable market for game meat. We support the phase out of lead, as the FSA and subsequent food industry move in the direction of a lead free environment.”

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