5 January 2001

Untapped markets offer huge potential for growth

LIMITED supplies of quality boar meat mean there are untapped markets which, if exploited, would stabilise the industry.

In the UK there are only four producers who regularly produce more than 100 carcasses a year, so supplies are low, but the potential for growth is huge, says Gael Edwards.

"People who enjoy Continental food, such as chefs, will search out boar meat, but because supplies are limited people do not expect to find it at their local butcher or supermarket. If we could meet demand, supermarkets would take 30-40 carcasses a week," says Mrs Edwards.

The Continental market is also untapped because even though there are many wild boar living in Europe, most do not reach the market-place, as they are killed and kept by hunters.

The Good Meat Company produces 50kg carcasses, which are sold to catering butchers in London, or local butchers, who prepare vacuum-packed joints and meat pieces. Boar meat sells for £4.40/kg in local butchers and £3.60/kg in supermarkets, meaning a £100 profit on a carcass for Mrs Edwards and a yearly income of £25,000 on 250-300 carcasses a year.

All marketing is done by the company and is directed towards hotels, butchers and caterers. "Let the market know that you produce wild boar and target those which will buy regularly," advises Mrs Edwards. Boar is not sold in summer, as it is red, gamey meat that has a seasonal market.

Producers wishing to enter the wild boar market should expect to pay £400-£600 a boar. Mortality is higher in gilts, so Mrs Edwards advises buying mature sows. Although it is cheaper to buy piglets and bring them on, gilts will be a year old at first service.

During the 1980s the market was damaged by cross-breeding boars with domesticated pigs, believes Mrs Edwards. "This meat was sold as wild boar and because it tasted like a strong version of pork, people expecting the real thing did not buy it," she says.

Buyers should ensure they are buying purebred wild boar, so quality meat is produced, she adds.

With plenty of scope for new markets, Mrs Edwards is surprised that more struggling pig producers have not seriously considered boar as an alternative. "Wild boar was indigenous to this country and is widely eaten on the Continent. But it is still regarded as an exotic meat," she says. &#42