Last year, I visited apprentices at Downfield farm, in Fife, to help the industry to launch the first-ever strategy for Scotland’s wild and farmed venison sector. The strategy includes action to build on the good work that is already being done in schools and communities to promote the nutritional benefits of venison as a low-fat and high-iron quality food. That work has included recent events that have been delivered in partnership with the Royal Highland Education Trust at the Gilston estate in Fife and at the Luss estate, with about 600 primary-aged children in attendance.
More broadly, we will continue working with stakeholders in the venison sector to take forward wider actions in the strategy to develop more consumer-driven communications campaigns to a wider audience.
Everyone in the chamber will be aware that we have issues with peri-urban deer, and lowland deer stalkers do a great deal of work in that regard to keep our roads and urban areas safe. However, I have often thought it a loss that in urban Scotland we do not promote venison as the healthy and nutritious food that it is. I have previously raised the issue of venison larders in urban settings. Will the minister let me know whether that is being actively discussed?
Through its beyond the glen strategy, the venison industry intends to invest in area-based facilities to maintain wild carcase quality and open new routes to local markets. That includes working with deer groups in the lowlands to implement a scheme around co-operatively owned and operated chillers and larders to meet that market’s needs. There are existing legal routes to market through licensed venison dealers for deer that are shot locally for onward sale, and discussions are under way with Scottish craft butchers to enhance the promotion of those channels next year.