This has been a bumper Christmas for Bristol’s Wild and Game with sales of its Christmas hampers soaring. Co-founder Steven Frampton puts it down to two things: concerns about Christmas turkey supplies have inspired people to look for appealing alternatives; and Wild and Game’s mission to get more people in the UK enjoying game is working.

The company was founded in 2017 in response to the underuse of game in the UK. While game is sustainable, healthy and in plentiful supply here, demand from consumers was low. Wild and Game’s solution was to make wild game accessible: the team developed a range of pies, pasties, sausages, burgers and ready meals designed to appeal to British tastes. Popular dishes such as steak and ale pie, chilli and curry were reworked with game as the star ingredient.

For people unsure about whether they would like game or uncertain how to cook it, these have served as easy and enjoyable introductions. Many people begin by trying these products, find they like game, and then graduate on to ordering from the company’s extensive selection of ready to cook meats. These are backed by free monthly recipe booklets that showcase game in a variety of modern, international recipes – emphasising its flexibility as an ingredient, and showing how well it works as a substitute for more familiar meats such as beef, chicken and pork.

The company has also worked to educate people on the health and ecological benefits of eating game. Wild British game has a lower carbon footprint than farmed meet, is free from hormones, and is sustainably produced – often being a product of culling that needs to take place to preserve the natural balance. It’s also lower in fat, higher in protein and rich in other key nutrients. With that in mind, Wild and Game has produced a January healthy eating recipe box packed with inspiring ways to use game as part of a diet or healthy eating plan.

By specialising in frozen game, the company has also made game readily available all year round, highlighting it as a great ingredient for summer barbecues and other seasonal dishes. And as the appetite for its products grows, it continues to expand its range, most recently introducing game charcuterie and a selection of responsibly sourced non-game products including cheese, fish from Cornwall and meats such as beef, lamb and pork from small, sustainable UK producers.

“We’re delighted by how our customer base has grown and want to develop into a one-stop-shop for high quality, sustainable foods from the UK,” says Frampton. “People understand and respond to our message that meat is a highly sustainable product when it’s produced and sourced responsibly – and that wild game is a large part of the solution to current concerns about the environmental impact of farming.

“The UK had largely lost its tradition of cooking with game, and many people saw it as a niche seasonal food that only worked in very traditional recipes. We’ve brought game into the spotlight as an excellent all-year-round ingredient that’s delicious, versatile and simple to cook with. Now our eyes are set on continuing our growth, not only through our online shop but also through our wholesale arm that supplies farm shops, independent shops and supermarkets. Ultimately we want game to be as widely available as meats such as beef, lamb and chicken – and we’re confident that we’re heading in that direction.”

As 2022 draws near the company is focussed on new product development, and for the first time it is canvassing the opinions of its customers to find what game products they would like to see next. Anyone with ideas is invited to email them to newproducts@wildandgame.co.uk. If a product is selected for development, the person who suggested it will be invited to take part in the process: they’ll be sent samples of test versions of the product so they can give their opinion – and once the product goes into production, they will receive a box of free samples of the final product.

Wild and Game has also hit the road many times in 2021, appearing at major food shows such as the Game Fair and the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham, where the team were delighted by the warm response from customers. Dates already in the diary for 2022 include the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show at Manchester Central on March 15&16 and at the Farm Shop and Deli Show at Birmingham’s NEC on April 25-27.

“We love meeting customers old and new and spread the word about game,” says Frampton. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for their amazing support in 2021 – we look forward to bringing them more great products next year.”