kangaroo burgers

Last week, Lidl became the final UK retailer to announce it would no longer stock kangaroo meat, ­citing “consumer feedback” and changing tastes.

The delisting came after a long-running campaign by vegan group Viva, which claimed many kangaroos were hunted and killed inhumanely.

There’s more to the delisting than vegan campaigners, though. Other speciality meats, such as buffalo, crocodile and boar, have also suffered a raft of delistings over the past year.

Iceland is the only retailer still stocking buffalo after Tesco and Ocado pulled the plug in 2017 [Brand View]. Asda is the last left standing on wild boar after Aldi and Waitrose took it off shelves, and crocodile lost its only mainstream listing, in Iceland, last April.

These meats had previously been listed with great fanfare. In 2015 Iceland joint MD Nigel Broadhurst hailed new speciality ranges including kangaroo as “lower in fat and higher in protein”. So what’s changed?

“Our long-standing ‘one in, one out’ policy means only top-selling new lines can expect to win a permanent place in our core range,” says Broadhurst now. “We stocked a range of Kezie branded exotic meat for a time and it attracted some interest, but not enough to justify its continued listing.”

Clare Stewart, head of sales at Kezie, is quick to point out that where Iceland delisted its kangaroo and crocodile last year, the retailer replaced them with other Kezie products, including venison, to keep options fresh.

Novelty is a key purchase driver for exotic meats, says Paul Cooke, owner of Osgrow, a supplier of exotic meats to wholesale and foodservice. But it can be tough to sustain rates of sale.

“We’re selling about 10% of the volume we were selling 15-20 years ago, but the marketplace was mainly made up of people who were interested in the novelty of it and it has been in serious decline ever since,” says Cooke. “Almost everyone gives the thumbs-up to taste, but it’s not easy to find again and some just won’t give it a chance to begin with.”

Campaign pressure

Viva believes national media attention attracted by its campaign, along with a ‘deluge of emails’ from its supporters, also helped put pressure on supermarkets stocking exotic meat.

Stewart is not convinced, however. Fear of cooking unknown meats is more likely to put consumers off than welfare considerations, she says.

Indeed, Muscle Food shows it’s still possible to get Brits to buy into exotic meat. It sells meats including ostrich, crocodile and kangaroo.

What the mults sell


  • Lidl: delisted 15 Dec 2017
  • Tesco: still available
  • Ocado: still available
  • Iceland: still available


  • Tesco: delisted 6 July 2017
  • Ocado: delisted 14 May 2017
  • Iceland: still available


  • Iceland: delisted 21 April 2017


  • Iceland: delisted 21 April 2017
  • Lidl: delisted June 2018

“We’ve seen 30% value growth across our portfolio of exotic meats year on year,” says COO Steven Curran.

“We’re reviewing the kangaroo range at the same time as Lidl, but looking to add more flavours with a focus on bringing traditional flavours to non-traditional products.”

Crucially, Muscle Food has been able to hold “quite firm” on its prices, Curran adds, keeping exotic meats accessible.

That may not be quite as easy in the future. Suppliers say they have already seen costs rise by about 18% as a result of the devaluation of sterling. Plus, supply of wild game can fluctuate and be vulnerable to disruption.

Despite this - and despite the recent spate of delistings - suppliers are cautiously optimistic.

“People here are becoming much more open-minded and we’re such a multicultural nation that there are many to whom these meats aren’t exotic at all,” says Toni Ribi, director of Ashton Exotic Meats.

So, while exotics might be endangered in the mults, adventurous and health-conscious consumers should ensure the market doesn’t reach extinction quite yet.