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China Re-opens For NZ Venison Exports

A catalogue of approved animal species for human consumption has been issued by the Peoples Republic of China. It includes venison from farmed malu – the Chinese name for red deer – along with more traditional farm animals and poultry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says the inclusion of our deer is great news for venison producers and marketers, as it will make it clear to officials across China that the sale and consumption of our venison is legal and safe for Chinese consumers.

“Chinese consumers have a growing appreciation for quality animal proteins, making China an increasingly important market for our venison. It was taking about 10 per cent of our exports until the end of 2019,” he says.

“When it became clear that the Covid-19 virus had jumped the species barrier from wild animals, China clamped-down on illegal sales of wild animal meat. Although our venison comes from farmed deer, this put a virtual halt to our exports there. Given that deer are still widely seen as wild animals, it’s easy to see how some regional and border officials might have become uncertain about the legality of our farmed venison.”

Moffat thanks officials in China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for being so responsive to the industry’s requests for the status of NZ farmed venison to be clarified.

“The news is really very timely. China has seen a dramatic slowing of the incidence of Covid-19, to the point where Wuhan, the source of the pandemic, is reporting no new cases. Restaurants in many regions are reopening, but with social distancing. It’s a good time for us to be selling our delicious venison there,” he says.

“Restaurants in some of our other main markets are also reopening before they have fully eliminated Covid. How consumers will respond to this situation is unclear; which means there is less certainty about when trade will recover to previous levels.”

China’s official catalogue of animals approved for human consumption names three deer species – malu (Cervus elaphus), sika and reindeer. In its Journal of Livestock and Genetic Resources, venison from NZ malu is the only imported red deer variety listed.

Importantly, says Moffat, deer are being treated by China the same as other livestock raised for meat. Some other species are permitted to be used only for traditional Chinese medicines, or for only for their fur, with their use as food prohibited.

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