South Africans could see more game meat options on the shelves of popular retailers as new legislation aims to take full advantage of the economic potential of the industry.

On 18 July, the minister of forestry, fisheries and the environment Barbara Creecy, opened the draft Game Meat Strategy for South Africa for public comment

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, game meat can be the meat of animals and birds that are traditionally hunted for sport or food instead of being raised on a farm under controlled circumstances.

The most commonly produced and consumed game meat in South Africa includes impala, kudu, wildebeest and springbok. The department said that although ostrich is considered game meat, it is predominantly produced through conventional livestock farming methods.

Creecy said the strategy and implementation plan are aimed at creating a formalised and transformed game meat industry in South Africa that contributes to food security and sustainable socio-economic growth.

According to the minister, the goal is to attract and open domestic and international markets to opportunities provided by the country’s renowned abundant wildlife.

Retailer Woolworths told BusinessTech that it is aware of the draft game meat strategy and is looking to further develop its game meat offerings. The group noted that it already sells venison, ostrich and biltong from various game species.

“This is a big business for us, which we are looking to expand,” said Woolworths.

Shoprite and Checkers said they aim to offer game meat options for sausages, burgers and minced meat, as they are healthier meat options.

Creecy said that the game meat strategy will create a scalable commercial game meat industry focused on game meat production, harvesting, processing, distribution and marketing – and the new legislation seeks to formalise the industry, which is currently mainly a by-product of informal operations.

“There are large areas of community-owned land that are suitable for plains game, and which provide an opportunity for community-based enterprises to drive rural socio-economic development. There are also high barriers to entry, which would need to be addressed,” the minister said.

Game meat enterprises will need to be commercially and ecologically sustainable, the department added.

Creecy said the strategy acknowledges the significant contribution that is being made by current wildlife businesses and the various associations that drive critical elements of the value chain.

“Key to taking the new strategy forward will be to harness their experience and expertise. New private sector investments will be needed, and partnerships and collaborations will be essential, meaningful, and with buy-in from all stakeholders,” said Creecy.

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