May 19, 2022
Venison from Mountain River was showcased to Swedish retail and foodservice customers last week by distributor Menigo. Mountain River’s Swedish partner Gustaf Kugelberg reports the fair, held in the old town hall of central Swedish town Sundsvall, was “very good” and attended by 250 buyers.
There was lots of interest for the presented cuts – tri-tip and bolar, says Kugelberg. “Shannon [Campbell] made a tartare/sushi meal that drew big interest and tri-tip was sliced and served with some sea salt on top to enhance the exquisite taste.”
Swedish consumers have been sampling and learning about New Zealand venison since the start of the year as Mountain River Venison’s Swedish team have ploughed ahead with retail marketing activity, supported by the DINZ Marketing Innovation Fund (MIF).
In-store demonstrations, competitions, distributors fairs and a new website have all played a part in the campaign, now at its half-way point, and which marketing director John Sadler says has been accelerated by the “seed” investment from MIF.
The funding has enabled Mountain River to “do a whole lot more”, including employing more people and doing more activities, he says, "to essentially set up a whole new business that is viable in the long-term.”
Sweden is an emerging market for New Zealand venison, where the meat is traditionally eaten, and it earns a high value per tonne.
“Our task is to inform consumers there that New Zealand farm-raised venison is a premium game meat, something quite different to long-held perceptions of game and venison. By presenting a range of easy-to-cook cuts like leg fillets and medallions along with recipes, we give Swedish foodies the opportunity to experience a taste of New Zealand venison in their own homes,” he says.
Over 700,000 viewed an Instagram competition for retail customers in the three weeks leading up to Easter. The prize was a copy of influencer Henning Kvick’s book, Meat Cravings, entry into a draw for a sample carton of Mountain River venison cuts and a few aprons. Over 200 entered, with “some great recipes” says Sadler. The winner @wallerbladish featured his winning dish – “Tataki style venison with Romanesco broccoli, ponzu mayo, green onion and a drizzle of ponzu sauce” – on his Instagram feed.
Getting product into people’s mouths is another important part of the activity. “Everybody acknowledges that when you cook it and present it, people are blown away by the taste, because that’s not what they expect,” says Sadler.
The Mountain River team have burned a lot of shoe-leather since the end of January when in-store demonstrations returned.
The hub for the activity, the www.mountainriver.eu website, continues to engage with customers through supporting experiences with chef recommendations and an expanding range of recipes.
“We’re always challenged between finding our market and trying to get the value,” says Sadler. That’s the reason why Mountain River is targeting the premium stores of supermarket chains with premium product to find the foodie, long-term niche end of the market.
Growing website visitor numbers, 62 percent of whom are in the target age-range of 34-44, “gives us confidence we are heading in the right direction and the people we are engaging with are the right customers.
“Feedback from our demos shows the same sign and that customers are open to eating venison all around the year,” he says. Getting affirmation from those consumers that “our product is something special,” has been another highlight for him from the activity.
Mountain River will launch other products over the next six months in the lead up to autumn, which will expand the range of products and channels for consumers to choose premium Mountain River Venison, he says.