FOOD MAN TALKS

British Game Alliance boss on COVID-19’s market impact

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Meat & Seafood, Supply chain

As game season approaches, Liam Stokes, chief executive of the British Game Alliance, says the market is likely to deliver 70% of usual volumes due to game farmers’ cautious approach to supply.

In addition, in this exclusive FoodMan Talks video podcast, Stokes tells Food Manufacture ​domestic Christmas trade is expected to be down on last year. Orders from hotels, pubs and restaurants are picking up a lot now lockdown is easing, but the foodservice channel is unlikely to recover to former levels until well into next year, he says.

Despite game season falling outside of UK national lockdown, Stokes explains that weak demand from game shoots has had a ripple effect back up the supply chain. “We’re shooting game from mid-August through to the back end of January, which has obviously missed this peak COVID crisis.

“We have seen a bit of an earthquake pass through the confidence in the shooting sector, so shooting operations are unsure how many birds they should be ordering.

Smaller orders from game farms

“They don’t know what demand’s going to look like for the days they are trying to sell, so they are putting in smaller orders with game farms. That was all going on at the peak of the crisis.”

As the lockdown began to ease, shoots were beginning to seek out new birds. However, the initial cautious ordering had led to cautious supply, said Stokes. “So there’s now not a lot of capacity out there for shoots that are now wanting to put on more days now confidence is returning.

“So overall this is leading to what we think with the best figures available is roughly a 70% season coming up for 2020-2021, so about 30% fewer birds.”

However, Stokes said there had been rocketing demand for online deliveries during lockdown, leading to many game suppliers developing direct to consumer services. “What we have seen is that those processors who sought to move into boxed services, delivery services have seen tremendous demand, outstripping supply in many places.”

Internet as a sales channel

Now that has happened, those suppliers would continue to use the internet as a sales channel, he claimed.

In addition, he says UK game exports have hardly been affected by the pandemic.

Play this exclusive podcast to hear Stokes highlight other big consumer trends that have emerged from the COVID-19 crisis and their implications for the game market.

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