Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

'Exotic meats' off the menu

Wholesaler takes ethical lead

Release date: 
Thursday, November 6, 2008

A LEADING British cash and carry company has dropped the sale of "exotic meat' to help preserve kangaroos facing extinction. Booker has been congratulated by Europe's largest campaigning vegetarian organisation, Viva! for taking the ethical decision to remove kangaroo, ostrich and crocodile meat from their stock list. Viva! met with Northants-based Booker in August 2008 providing compelling evidence of the cruelty and unsustainable nature inherent in the so-called "exotic meats' trade. This included a new report from the Australian Society for Kangaroos "Decimation of an Icon', which shows several species of kangaroo shot in the wild for meat and leather are on the brink of extinction in Australia. Previously, Booker, which has been named Wholesaler of the Year 2008, had been the only major retailer in Britain selling kangaroo meat. During a second meeting with the company earlier this month, Viva! maintained that an increase in the trade in kangaroo meat in Britain will put further pressure on wild populations in Australia. More than three million animals are still allowed to be slaughtered every year despite the worst drought in living memory and the result is a collapse of kangaroo populations.* Justin Kerswell, Viva! campaigns manager says: "We congratulate Booker for taking the lead as ethical retailers by removing so-called "exotic meats' from sale. Unfortunately, there are still a few outlets that persist in profiting from the death of wildlife and which seem to be oblivious to the fact that 75 per cent of the world's species are in decline or facing extinction. We hope that Booker's lead will give them pause for thought. Wildlife belongs in the wild, not on people's dinner plates.' Bryan Drew, Group Commercial Director said: "We are constantly looking to improve choice, price and service for our customers, however we also understand that there maybe some welfare issues with the production of kangaroo, ostrich and crocodile meat. We are aware of our role as the UK's leading food wholesaler in influencing the rest of the trade and have, after careful consideration, taken the decision not to list these products.' For more information about Viva!'s campaign against kangaroo hunting, please call 0117 944 1000 or visit www.savethekangaroo.com. ENDS For more information about this media release, please contact Viva! press officer Helen Rossiter (press@viva.org.uk). On kangaroo hunting: Justin Kerswell Viva! campaigns manager (justin@viva.org.uk) or Helen Rossiter on 0117 944 1000 or visit www.savethekangaroo.com. Notes to editors *Kill tallies do not include the hundreds of thousands of baby "Joeys', who are clubbed with iron bars or left to die from exposure or predation in the bush. Western Grey, Eastern Grey, Wallaroo and Red Kangaroo populations have plummeted to densities of below five kangaroos per square kilometre " something defined in the Australian government's Murray Darling report as "quasi extinction'. In fact, densities of less than two kangaroos per square kilometre have been identified across 50 to 60 per cent of three states where commercial hunting is allowed. 'Decimation of an Icon' can be viewed online by visiting http://www.kangaroo-protection-coalition.com/kangaroo-extinction.html National campaigning group Viva! distinguished itself when it persuaded all Britain's 1,500 supermarkets to drop the sale of kangaroo and other "exotic meats'. In 1998, Booker cancelled plans to sell kangaroo meat after a nationwide campaign by Viva!. It has had a long-running campaign against the Adidas use of kangaroo leather in football boot manufacture. The world's largest uses of kangaroo leather, its advertising was headed by David Beckham, who changed from Predator football boots made of kangaroo leather to those and from synthetics after an intervention by Viva! Viva! is the largest vegetarian and vegan campaigning organisation in Europe. Founder and director Juliet Gellatley was presented with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council award for services to wildlife in 1998.