With Covid-19 impacting business demand for game, Czech hunters launch direct-to-consumer website

Dozens of forestry experts from several European countries met in Bohemian-Moravian Highlands. Photo: Vít Pohanka, ČRo

The combination of a long-term rise in numbers of game in the Czech countryside, combined with a decrease in demand from restaurants and meat processers, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, has led to worries that hunted game will go to waste. As a result, the Bohemian-Moravian Hunters Union has created a new direct-to-consumer website, where the public can order freshly hunted game.

Every year Czech hunters (Myslivci) go into the wild and shoot a set amount of animals to regulate their numbers in the Czech countryside.

This is not just a source of income for the myslivec, but his responsibility. For example, if a farmer’s property is damaged by wild animals, he has the right to charge the local hunters union for the damage to his property.

Following the hunt, the meat is subsequently sent to restaurants, hotels and meat processing plants to end up on the plates of the public in one form or other.

Photo: Daniel Beránek, CC 3.0

However, this year there are fears much of the animals will go to waste as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated an already existing low demand for game, says Jiří Janota, the chairman of the Bohemian-Moravian Hunting Union which contains over 60,000 members.

“This year we have registered a serious decrease in the price and demand for game. This was further increased by the coronavirus pandemic with large meat processing plants often unable to accept new deliveries of this meat source. It is hard to sell game and restaurants are closed.

“At the same time, there is pressure on hunters to increase their activity, because there is a significant rise in the number of wild animals in the country.”

To help solve the issue, the union has launched a direct-to-customer website called prozverinu.cz, where anyone can contact hunters in their local area and ask about the game they have to offer. The meat is checked by an expert ahead of the sale for any diseases.

The effort has also found support from the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Veterinary Administration. In May, an amendment to the decree specifying the amount of game which can be sold from hunter to customer increased the amount of meat that can be sold this way.

Mr Janota says the Bohemian-Moravian Hunting Union has now also asked the ministry for support in a public campaign which they have prepared.

"The aim should be to focus on the wider members of the public so that people understand game is not expensive, or hard to get and that it is a very attractive gastronomic specialty, one that is also highly nutritious."

Even if the direct-to-consumer website ends up proving successful, Mr Janota believes this will not be enough. He says that what matters most is securing a greater demand for game from large meat processing plants.