THE STORY OF HIGHLAND GAME
Since it was founded in 1997, specialist venison producer Highland Game has quadrupled in size supplying major retailers including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's Morrisons and Waitrose as well as the wholesale trade distributing to Catering & Restaurants, Quality Butchers and Deli shops.
The company was established by Danish entrepreneur Christian Nissen and his wife Ingela, who together acquired a venison production unit from a poultry and game dealer based in Dundee. Their vision was to help venison achieve wider popularity by making it available through mainstream retail channels.
At the time, venison was not widely consumed in the UK and was mainly sold only through butchers and delicatessens. In fact, in 1997 just 5% of venison produced in the UK was consumed domestically, with 95% exported, mainly to France and Germany. Highland Game believed that if it could convince people that venison was a tasty, healthy, safe and affordable meat, it could change perception and increase consumption levels at home.
To achieve its aim, Highland Game set about establishing production facilities that would satisfy the stringent criteria demanded by major retailers. The company customised its Dundee factory to ensure the highest quality processing environment with rigorous hygiene standards and full traceability.
After conducting consumer research, the company concluded that the best way to make venison attractive to UK consumers would be to present it to them in as convenient format as possible. To this end, it brought in specialist butchers experienced in working with venison from France, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe to train its own staff in the required techniques to produce ready-to-cook cuts such as fillets, roasting joints, racks and diced meat, as well as sausages and burgers.
Highland Game then specifically targeted forward-thinking buyers at multiple retailers to persuade them that venison sold in convenient and easy-to-use cuts would be of great appeal to health-conscious, busy consumers. These efforts paid off and Highland Game venison is now sold in over 600 stores across the UK, as well as in butchers, delis and restaurants nationwide and online at www.highlandgame.com.
Highland Game has used a range of marketing techniques to engage with consumers and help them discover the benefits of venison. In 2003, the company published its first cook book ' titled The Name of the Game. It also ran an advertising campaign in Country Living magazine and staged cookery demonstrations at the Good Housekeeping Institute in London.
This activity has been supported by Highland Game's cookery road shows and its venison master classes, which have been staged in AGA shops and at country fairs and trade exhibitions. The company's credentials were enhanced in 2006 when it achieved BRC-accreditation. Highland Games second specialist cook book 'Venison' by Maxine Clark was published.