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Forestry and Land Scotland’s deer management programme was hailed as exemplary when Rural Affairs Minister, Mairi Gougeon, today (3 March) announced a £13 million, five-year venison supply contract between Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) and Highland Game Ltd.  

The contract, that was competitively tendered, highlights the significant economic, social and environmental benefits of Forestry and Land Scotland’s management of deer.

It will also help to underpin the popularity of Scottish venison in markets at home and overseas, and boost its credentials with increasingly health-conscious consumers - venison is high in protein (more than beef), high in iron and vitamin B12 (good for red blood cells), and is low in calories and fat. 

Speaking at a visit to Highland Game Ltd in Dundee, Ms Gougeon, said:

“This management activity is essential to help reduce Scotland’s deer population to non-damaging levels to protect the environment. As part of our ambition to create a circular economy, we should ensure that this lean, healthy source of protein reaches the food chain. This contract will make a significant contribution to Scotland’s £7.25 million per year venison industry.

“Crucially, the deal with Highland Game, one of the exciting innovative businesses in our food and drink sector, brings added value to the rural economy and sustains hundreds of rural jobs and livelihoods.” 

As the largest producer of venison in the UK, Scotland contributes around 3,500 tonnes of wild venison and 70 tonnes of farmed venison each year. Around two thirds of this enters the £100 million UK Game market, with the remaining third being exported to countries across mainland Europe and, increasingly, the USA. 

FLS and Highland Game Ltd have worked with the industry to develop the Scottish Quality Wild Venison Assurance Scheme – of which both are members – which has been a fundamental element in the long-term commitment to develop and strengthen the market.

Christian Nissen, Managing Director of Highland Game Ltd, said; 

“I am very proud of the part that we play in promoting the benefits of venison to markets at home and overseas. Venison is a highly nutritious, versatile and affordable meat that is no longer a niche delicacy but is a year-round staple found across the country in restaurants, supermarkets and in home kitchens.  

“Our working relationship with FLS is moving from strength to strength, which is good news for us and good news for Scotland. It has also allowed Highland Game Ltd to stay focussed on delivering quality of service to our customers and to our ongoing investment in the business and its people.  

“This is a hugely successful pairing that is a real boost to the reputation of Scotland’s high quality food and drink sector and I look forward to further work with FLS and other land managers to build on these very strong foundations.”

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Minsters in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.
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  3. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Manager, Forestry and Land Scotland Media Office 0131 370 5059 or
  4. Highland Game Ltd., based in Dundee, Scotland, was founded in 1997, by Danish entrepreneur Christian Nissen. Highland game sources most of its venison from FLS, which manages the deer population through sustainable culls to prevent overpopulation. This is supplemented by a supply from Private Estates in the Scottish Highlands.
  5. Highland Game is a certified BRC AA and Scottish Quality Wild Venison (SQWV) dedicated processor, which means it upholds strict industry standards and leadership from ‘hill to plate’.
  6. The recent independent deer working group report noted that the total deer population in Scotland could be approaching 1 million and highlighted the need for proactive deer management.
  7. The new competitively tendered contract will see 97% of the deer culled by FLS – almost 1000 tonnes of wild Scottish venison – reach the food chain by being processed into high quality venison products by Highland Game Ltd and distributed to national, UK and international markets. This means that Forestry and Land Scotland is bringing around half of the wild venison in Scotland - 39,000 carcasses per annum – to market, with the balance coming from private land owners.