By Yuki Kobayashi
The Headquarters on Creating Dynamism in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Industries and Local Communities, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, held a meeting on May 23, and announced its decision to increase the consumption of wild game, including deer and boar. Twelve model districts will be designated next fiscal year, and hunters will be trained and distribution systems developed. The government aims to double the consumption of game meat by FY2019.
Game meat, traditionally part of European cuisine, is popular in Japan for its low fat content and high nutritional value. Farming districts that cull deer and wild boar to prevent damage to agriculture are hopeful that hunting the animals could bring in extra income if it can be sold as game meat. To increase consumption of wild game, a stable supply of the meats is necessary. However, there have been many challenges to popularizing the cuisine, such as the lack of distribution systems and the decrease in the number of hunters due to aging.
Next fiscal year, the government will initiate efforts to expand consumption of wild game by designating 12 model districts nationwide based on entries submitted by the public. To ensure there are enough suppliers, training programs will be offered to hunters on how to process wild game. In addition, game processing trucks that can process game immediately upon catch and processing facilities that can dress over 1,000 animals per year will be developed. The government will also create a framework to certify processing facilities that perform proper sanitation control to prevent the spread of germs and parasites carried by wild animals.
For consumers’ peace of mind, an information management system will be developed to track acquisition date and hunter information for all game stored in refrigerated facilities.
Furthermore, area lists of game meat restaurants will be developed, and cooking contests will be held to encourage eating game meat dishes at home.
Although the government does not have any precise statistics on the current level of wild game consumption, it hopes to collect data going forward. “We hope to double consumption levels by FY2019,” says an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.