The difference between Game meat and Venison

“I loved your post on Game meat but may I suggest that you used the correct term of ‘venison’, rather than game meat,” someone voiced just the other day.

I only then realised that most people in South Africa, are not clear on the difference between the two, and most of us do not even know that there, indeed exists a difference between our so beloved South African Game Meat, frequently used to make biltong, and the Australian and New Zealand version of wild meat, more correctly referred to Venison.

Now if you ask any person around the world, including South Africa, what Venison is, they will quickly tell you in the most blatant of terms that it is wild meat, deer meat, or even meat derived from wildlife such as rabbit and wild boar.

There are however many countries where the local populations has no idea about what game meat is. Game is a word equally popular in the USA and Britain as it is in South Africa, but when visiting the Middle East, Russia, China and East-European countries, they might look at you in a way which will indicate that there is a total lack of comprehension, and thus asking for an explanation.

One of the reasons for this is that Australia and New Zealand has done ground-breaking work in establishing the export markets for their products, and has done so primarily by a word which can’t be confused with any other sort of meat.

They are in fact adamant on the notion that only wild meat from Austria and New Zealand can be called Venison, similarly like Champagne coming only from the region of Champagne in France.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Venison is superior in any way to, for instance game meat, it only establishes the fact that New Zealand has very successfully created a brand or ‘word’ associated with their product.

Venison is derived from the deer, often described as organic and free range, which naturally roams about in both New Zealand and Australia.

Game meat on the other hand, includes but is not limited to, South African game harvested from the African bush veld which include a wide range of species, of which the most popular is Blue Wildebeest, Kudu, Impala, Springbuck and Eland.

As you can imagine, the free range deer from New Zealand has a very different diet than their counterparts in South Africa, where the feed ranges from various types of grass, to leaves of different trees as well, depending on the species.

Again this doesn’t make the one superior over the other, but there is a distinct difference in taste, and those who love game meat, will testify that the quality is of a superb level.

Game meat is proudly South African, and there is a bright future ahead as we market our products as such.

Not at all your average hunting meat

Riga Merchants are merchants of name. We pride ourselves in the quality of every single product coming from our platforms.


That is why we do not purchase any meat that has been hunted during the South African hunting season, nor do we except any meat from game ranchers who offers a couple of animals which were in excess and needed to be culled for the purposes of game ranch management.

Our meat comes only from registered, export and internationally approved game abattoirs, who continues to supply some of the top markets in the world.

It is of utmost importance to understand this, as a large part of the South African public perception about game meat (venison,) originates from what we experienced because of a culture of hunting.

In most cases, the hunt takes place during the day, and with this, there are usually some hunting related action involved. This causes adrenaline rushes among other natural biochemical reactions in the animal, especially if it was not a head shot, which have a dramatic effect on the quality, tenderness and taste of the meat. There are, apart from that, very rarely any consistency with the processing of the meat, as various factors plays a role in the correct way of bleeding the animal, and the effectiveness of getting it to the slaughtering facility.

The game meat from Riga merchant is professionally harvested by a team of registered harvesters, using suppressors on their rifles, placing head-shots and frequently working at night, so as to cause minimum suffering to the animals with absolutely no damage to the meat itself.

The processing is done in a similar fashion where quality can be maintained by very effective transport of the carcasses, at just the right temperature and readiness of staff at the abattoir and processing facilities.

This, among many other factors, insures us to be able to supply to you, some of the best products South Africa has to offer.

With a very quick, deliciously pan-fried sirloin steak, why not give it a try and fall in love with a premium source of nutrition, natural in every sense, the healthy game meat option for everyone.