Reindeer meat is back on the shelves of Lynn’s Lidl store this year, leading to criticism from animal rights groups.
Lidl maintains that it is offering a premium product to customers at an affordable price whilst campaigners say the environment is bearing the brunt for sales of a novelty item.
A Lidl spokesman said: “Despite only being on sale for a short time, our sliced and smoked reindeer is already proving very popular with the British public.
“The smoked reindeer that we sell is from the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous region in Siberia. The reindeers pasture freely in the tundra year around, changing location on almost a weekly basis. They are herded by local native Nenets people, with reindeer farming playing an enormous cultural and economical part in the lives of the people in this region. All reindeer are slaughtered in strict accordance with EU guidelines and our own high standards of food safety, hygiene and animal welfare.”
Justin Kerswell, spokesman for Viva, a charity that campaigns for a vegan world, said predators such as wolves and bears are being killed to protect reindeer herds.
He added: “The reality is that the boom in novelty reindeer meat in Britain, and other countries that don’t traditionally eat it, has led to environmental destruction, animal cruelty and loss of large predators on a shockingly large scale across parts of Scandinavia and Siberia.”
Matthew Pearce, of the new M K Pearce butchers, in Lynn Road, Gaywood, said: “It is a strange thing to stock although I do get asked for venison, which is the same really.
“With such a diverse community, you are going to get people asking for strange things. I have had requests for ostrich and wild boar and have a supplier of springbok, shark and crocodile for next day delivery.
“The most unusual thing I stock is South African sausages, which I make myself. I have been here three weeks and have sold out of them every week. I don’t like them, but gave them to some South African customers and they told me they are spot on!”
Claudia Tarry, Animal Aid campaigner, said people should also be concerned about the use of live reindeer as an attraction.
She said: “Uprooting reindeer from their natural habitat, bringing them to a life of captivity in the UK, transporting them up and down the country and subjecting them to the stress of being on public display causes reindeer significant health and welfare problems.
“These magical and majestic creatures shouldn’t be used as props in garden and shopping centre displays, or forced to traipse along high streets pulling a sleigh behind them. They belong in the tundra, eating lichen and roaming the wilds in freedom.”