Highland Game signs deal to supply venison to Tesco

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VENISON processor Highland Game is eyeing a £1 million boost to sales as it prepares to launch an exclusive “Chef’s Selection” range into Britain’s biggest supermarket chain.

The deal with Tesco marks a major extension of the Dundee firm’s relationship with the retail giant and could lead to the range being stocked in hundreds of outlets south of the Border.

A range of venison sausages, burgers, meatballs and grill steaks are due to hit the shelves of selected Scottish Tesco stores from next Monday.

The new products have been developed by Scots-born chef and cookery writer Maxine Clark and fellow chef Willie Pike.

Christian Nissen, Highland Game’s Danish-born founder and managing director, said: “Tesco is already a very important customer for Highland Game and we are now launching this range into up to 100 stores in Scotland.

“Chef’s Selection is exclusively sourced and produced for Tesco and this helps fulfil our strategy and ambition to make venison readily available to everyone.”

He added: “The Scottish business is difficult to assess but we expect it to be about £1m in year one – if not, we will be disappointed.”

The firm hopes that a successful trial in Scottish stores will lead to an expansion into England next year.

Angus Bell, local category buying manager at Tesco Scotland, said: “Venison is becoming increasingly popular and this range offers exciting recipes for customers. This premium Scottish heritage range will sit proudly on our shelves.”

Highland Game was founded in 1997 and has become the largest venison processor in the UK, supplying more than 500 supermarkets, deli shops, butchers and catering distributors.

In 2010, the firm swallowed English rival Rick Bestwick, integrating it into its Dundee operation.

Nissen said further contracts should help boost staff numbers by about 20 over the next year or so. It currently employs 65 staff.

The company is planning further “specialty” product launches in the autumn.