Photo/IllutrationMasakuni Matsumura, left, president of Tea2, and Taiki Mochizuki, vice president of the company, display venison jerky in Tokushima on June 7. (Tsukasa Fuke)

  • Photo/Illustraion

MIMA, Tokushima Prefecture--Want to pamper your pet dog or cat? Try venison, once a dish for the aristocracy and still considered by many to be a cut above other meat dishes.

Deer may look cute, but farmers regard them as a pest because the animals ravage agricultural crops.

Prefectural authorities here said hunters culled 14,013 deer in fiscal 2016, an increase of 80 percent over fiscal 2011. Crop damage due to foraging deer was estimated at 42.12 million yen ($378,000) in fiscal 2016, larger than fiscal 2011.

Given that only loin and thigh are considered palatable for human consumption, so-called gibier, the rest of the butchered animal is discarded.

The word gibier is French for game.

Two entrepreneurs came up with the idea of using the discarded parts as pet food.

“(Our pet food) is high in protein, vitamin and iron content, with little fat,” said Masakuni Matsumura, president of Tea2, a company located in this city’s Wakimachi district. "We recommend our pet food products to those who want to extend their pets’ longevity.”

Venison in centuries past was equated with fine dining for the aristocracy in France, according to the Japan Gibier Promotion Association.

Matsumura was raised in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture, and would go on to work in the IT industry in Tokyo.

He was contacted by Taiki Mochizuki, a friend from junior high school and currently vice president of Tea2. Mochizuki suggested they go into business together.

Tea2 was established in February. The company purchases cuts of venison from facilities in western Tokushima Prefecture, including the Higashi-Iya district in Miyoshi, to process into pet food at its plant in the Wakimachi district.

Tea2 began offering venison jerky for dogs, along with venison rib jerky and venison cookie mixed with seaweed, for 898 yen, including tax, per 100 grams. The company also offers dried venison flakes for dogs and cats, as well as powdered venison for 1,080 yen per 50 grams.

The products are available through the official shopping site of Yahoo (only in Japanese), (https://store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/tea2/), and the Loving Cafe in the Wakimachi district run by Mochizuki’s family.