On 21st May 2018 at the Westminster Kingsway College, London, the members of the British Game Alliance (BGA) spoke openly and honestly to some of the leading members of the shooting community about the current state of the game meat industry whilst introducing what is to be, a ground breaking nationwide initiative.
The British Game Alliance is the official marketing board for the UK game industry. As a not-for-profit organisation, it works to promote the value of all feathered game to the public whilst exploring new markets at home and overseas. Through its ‘British Game’ assurance scheme, the BGA can ensure the provenance of game meets rigorous and ethical standards and by nurturing deeper relationships with the food industry, the BGA will give good food seekers access to tasty and healthy British game.
The evening culminated with speeches from Simon Hart MP and Chairman of the Countryside Alliance who encouraged the community to act with self-regulation whilst it still can: “The reality is, whether we approve or agree with it or not, shooting has never been under greater scrutiny.” He continued, “The message we got from No. 10 and DEFRA was that we must embrace self-regulation as enthusiastically and as lovingly as you can, because if not, someone else will regulate you.” This followed with a speech from Thomas Adams, Managing Director of the British Game Alliance, who laid out the path the BGA will take.
Ivan Shenkman, Chairman of the British Game Alliance continued by speaking openly about the relationships between the shooting community, the Government, game dealers, shoot agents and the general public: “I plan to be a more than proactive chairman giving freely of my time for a sport that I love. I have spent a life time working in the food sector and shooting so believe this makes me exceptionally well placed to help resolve our immediate difficulties and guarantee that there is a long-term future for shooting in this country.”
Followed finally by Lord James Percy, British Game Alliance Patron, who discussed the current landscape of the shooting industry and its effect on the game meat industry: “The time for words is over, the time for action is upon us – not next year, not next season but right now. If there wasn’t a pretty major issue, you would not be here today, not would there be a need for forming the British game Alliance.” He continued, “The time, investment, the effort, the jobs, the sweat and tears – it all goes into producing the game to shoot, the birds in the sky” … “One thing I am absolutely clear on in my mind – if a bird is not going to be eaten, it cannot be shot. End of. That is the basic principle of our sport.”
The British Game Alliance will not compete with other game initiatives; it will compliment, unite and fill the gap of a much-needed marketing board for game. The BGA will work on a national scale taking inspiration from Scottish Venison, Welsh Lamb and British Beef, who have created well-loved brands that have found demand around the world.
The British Game Alliance seeks to unite each aspect of the game shooting community for:
- Birds fully adapted to the wild
- The benefit of the wildlife, our woodlands, landscapesand love of great food
- Healthy game, at a healthy price
- Shoots, agents and game dealers
- The shooting community and the general public
For shoots & agents, the BGA will do the following through its membership scheme:
- Secure the future of the game industry through directly addressing our issues.
- Work tirelessly to develop new markets for your game output.
- Increase the value of your game by improving perceptions and increasing demand
- The use of the British Game stamp assures your clients of your high standards.
- Provide support and advise on all game related issues
- The BGA is for all shoots of all sizes.
Its tiered membership fee makes it fair and accessible to even the smallest shoot. Participating shoots will offer their paying guns a voluntary levy of 50p per bird on their invoice or balance payment. This is an opportunity for the guns to contribute to the fighting fund.
Sir John Randall, Environment Special Advisor to Teresa May, listened carefully to the BGA proposals and made it very clear he is very keen to see progress in the area of self-regulation and standards. He pointed out the obvious risks to shooting should standards in the field, as well as the processing of shot game, not stand up to stringent scrutiny. He was also encouraged to hear that all the major organisations involved in game shooting were working together to achieve the highest standards.
George Eustice, Minister of State at DEFRA said: “I am delighted to support the launch of the BGA as it helps ensure the highest standards of welfare in the rearing and sale of game meat as healthy, free range and affordable. It is also encouraging to see efforts being made to identify new markets for game at home and abroad.”
Rt Hon Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, said: “I will be supporting the BGA actively as a shoot owner, and in Parliament by making sure that everyone understands that shooting has got its house in order and can be trusted to self-regulate.”
Marcus Janssen will be Chairing the Advisory Committee, “I will be chairing committee meetings and co-ordinating the communication between our advisory committee and the board, who will then, hopefully, be able to make more informed decisions about the best way to achieve our main goal: to get more game onto more menus and supermarket shelves. The advisory committee’s primary purpose is to be the link between the game shooting market and the game meat market, so we will be working very closely with the shooting industry.”
D’Arcy Wyvill, Custodian at Constable Burton Hall shared his support following the launch: “The Constable Burton shoot has signed up as a shoot member already, and we’ve been involved since inception. We will be asking the guns which come and shoot to make a voluntary contribution to the tune of 50p a bird. I will also be doing my bit in the North of England to refer the BGA onwards to other shoots.”
Tristan Kirk and Simon Wilkinson of Lincolnshire Game spoke highly of the new initiative on the evening explaining, “We believe the BGA is critical to bring about a uniformed standard throughout the industry. Lincolnshire Game Ltd, as one of the largest producers of game into the UK retail market, will be supporting the BGA by signing up and encouraging all our estates to sign up for a better future for the whole industry.”
Jose Souto, Senior Chef Lecturer in Culinary Arts at the Westminster Kingsway College helped to organise the launch evening, providing superb game canapés: “In this day an age when consumers, chefs and the retail sector scrutinize, quite rightly, all aspects of our food, we need to have an assurance of the good husbandry, quality and a traceability for all our game, as we have with all other meats. The BGA will give these assurances so that everyone can buy with confidence knowing that the game they purchase has been reared, handled, prepared and processed following the highest standards and codes of best practice.”