Research carried out in September and October of 2013 found that although the market had gone through tough times in 2012 with the poor weather and continuing economic downturn, 2013 has seen an increase in both the game released and numbers returning to shoots.
The overall game population is estimated at around 35m pheasants and 15m partridges; so, based on average feed intake figures, the market size for game feed is believed to be between 100kT and 130kT.
Associations in the industry remain key influencers in promoting the sport. There is hope that raising awareness and educating the public, through various schemes, will continue to positively change the perception of the industry. External pressure and regulations from the Government are generally viewed as a positive step towards better practice within the game industry. Recent governmental legislation seeks to address bird welfare and management, ultimately creating a more professional industry. Other influencers include breeders and hatcheries and the end users, whose input directly affects the market.
With costs a major challenge to the industry in general, it is perceived game famers will look for more cost effective solutions in all areas of their business, including game feed. A cost-quality trade-off is predicted and the market are looking for more solutions to game feed with a balance of premium (fishmeal) feed and lower cost feed throughout varying stages of a birds life to deliver the greatest health and performance but at a fair price. Unpredictable environmental conditions are anticipated to continue thus providing a constant threat to bird health. Subsequently the market predicts an increase in medicated feed in the future.
Despite these challenges, experts remain positive about the future of the market, with predicted growth in the industry, albeit small. The market has noted particular opportunities which could further promote and drive the industry, centred on promotion and education of the UK game market. The number of shoots remains constant and with a rise in awareness and popularity of game bird as a human foodstuff (especially with the large supermarket chains introducing more game onto their shelves) and with the growth of gastro pubs and celebrity endorsement for eating more game, attitudes are changing for the better.
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