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Venison market development

NZ venison is arguably the world’s best meat – lean, delicious, nutritious and pasture-fed. Those who know about it are willing to pay a premium for it over other red meats.

Promoting the world’s best meat

The only large, established market for venison is in Europe. The European game meat market is highly seasonal and wrapped in tradition. It prefers wild-shot game bought from a local hunter. Most of this game is eaten in restaurants and workplace canteens.

Each northern autumn this market pays a premium for chilled NZ venison to top-up local supply. While this demand is the foundation stone of our venison industry, European chefs have traditionally put little value on its New Zealand origin. 

Encouraging European chefs to make NZ venison their first choice has long been a deer industry priority and the statistics show it is working:

  • European chef awareness of the quality and safety of NZ venison is steadily increasing
  • Chefs now pay a premium for higher-end cuts of NZ venison than for the same cuts from competing sources.

Building these preferences must continue. But we also need to develop markets that are willing to pay premium prices year-round and not only for the higher-end cuts. At the same time we need to reduce our exposure to the Euro – an exposure that cost venison producers dearly from 2000-2015.

NZ venison has earned a premium in the German game market over imported game from other origins. This reflects growing chef awareness of the quality of NZ venison, as well the success of exporters in finding customers in the United States who are willing to pay more for lower value cuts.

2015-2020 work plan

From 2015-2020 DINZ is putting more of its market development budget into North America, the USA in particular. Since the launch of Cervena™ 20 years ago, North America has been a priority for market diversification, a strategy that is now bearing fruit.

The United States is now:

  • The largest market for NZ chilled venison
  • The best-paying market for NZ chilled venison (mainly Cervena™)
  • An important and growing market for NZ venison used in processed meat products (burgers, sausages and high-end pet food), for which it pays an appropriate premium

From 2015-2020, DINZ will be investing about $1.3 million a year in ongoing market development. Of this, about 30% funds joint promotions with marketers, 25% to the USA and 20% to Europe. The balance covers DINZ services such as chef expertise and menu development, sales collateral and websites, NZ promotional support and travel by DINZ executives and contract chefs.

In the United States, a full-time Cervena™ key account manager has been appointed to help marketers service their key accounts, find new customers and support their sales staff. As in Europe, DINZ consultant chefs like Graham Brown play a vital role at sales promotions and in building chef confidence in using NZ venison.

More about Cervena™ >>

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