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Chilled venison markets and season growing

DEER INDUSTRY NZ

Media release

27 October 2016

Chilled venison markets and season growing

Sales of New Zealand chilled venison are growing, boosting returns to New Zealand deer farmers, even though overall venison production is down.

The average published schedule price paid to farmers peaked in mid-October at $8.83 a kilogram, marginally ahead of last season’s spring peak of $8.63.

But Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says this headline price does not fully reflect the underlying market improvement, because of the firming of the Kiwi dollar against the Euro. At Euro 0.65c, she says the dollar is well above its 10-year average and 8 per cent up on the same time last year.

“With farmers rebuilding their herds, export venison tonnages were down 11 percent in the year to August 2016. Total value was down 2 percent,” she says.

“In contrast, chilled venison export volumes were up 7 percent and returns up 16 percent as marketers increased sales outside the European autumn market,” she said. “As a result, the shoulders of the peak chilled demand period are spreading.”

The United States (671 tonnes) and Germany (559 tonnes) remain the largest chilled markets, but if Belgium and the Netherlands were treated as a single market, it would be the biggest (853 tonnes).

Wilson says traditionally venison export sales have been heavily reliant on the German game trade which is highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking for the supply of chilled venison in September/early October. It has long been a deer industry goal to build year-round demand for venison at chilled prices.

“At the direction of the venison marketing companies, DINZ undertakes venison promotion in priority markets, and this year put $400,000 into joint promotions with individual marketers,” she says.

“These promotions are quite varied depending on the market and customers being targeted. Some are quite substantial. Priorities for the companies include food service channels in the United States and year-round supply to German retail outlets.”

In addition, DINZ and venison marketers have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries in Passion2Profit (P2P) a Primary Growth Partnership joint venture. One of its main objectives is to build year-round high value markets for NZ venison, thereby reducing the industry’s reliance on the seasonal European game trade.

In the second year of a 3-year trial summer promotion in Belgium and the Netherlands, which ended in September, sales of Cervena chilled venison climbed to 50 tonnes, up from 15 tonnes in the first year.

“The concept of eating venison as a summer grilling item is still quite novel in Europe, so it generates quite a lot of discussion among chefs and diners,” Wilson says.

She notes that what New Zealand farm raised venison has to offer is increasingly resonating with influential chefs and a new generation of consumers who are open to new culinary concepts.

“Add to that a growing preference for grass-fed red meat in important markets and an insistence by gatekeepers on food safety and quality assurance standards that New Zealand farmed venison can deliver.”

Sales of farm raised venison to North America have grown year on year and it’s a great example of how venison marketing companies have sustainably created and grown new market segments to complement their European businesses, says Wilson.

“North America is now our largest chilled market and a major market for the secondary processing of venison into items such as gourmet burgers. This is strategically important to the industry because it makes us less reliant on sales in Euros.”

A side-effect of increasing sales of chilled venison and a diversification of markets is a 30 percent fall this year in the supply of frozen venison to Germany.

”While our venison marketing companies don’t like disappointing anyone in the market, the reality is that they are prioritising those customers who take chilled venison year-round at better prices than the frozen trade can offer. It reflects the success of the industry in diversifying markets,” she says.

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