Deer programme celebrated after 7 years

Sep 13, 2022

Watch the P2P video, presented at a parliamentary function on 13 September. The video celebrates the contribution so many individuals and organisations have made to the success of the P2P programme that has now ended.

The deer farming industry is celebrating the success of a strategy that has set it on a positive track for the future.

Known as Passion2Profit (P2P), it aimed to convert the passion that farmers have for their deer into greater farm profitability. Seven years and $14 million later it has resulted in the development of major new markets for venison and greater productivity on deer farms.

P2P was part of government’s Primary Growth Partnership programme and was funded 50/50 by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Deer Industry NZ.

Independent programme chair, Bruce Wills, says venison marketers have done what he describes as a “fabulous job” pivoting to retail, with prices well on the way to recovering from a Covid induced slump.

China is now the industry’s fourth biggest venison market, up from near zero exports at the start of the P2P programme. At retail in the United States, venison sales are growing faster than any other protein item – again up from near-zero seven years ago.

“P2P has achieved much, but did not have a perfect run. We did not achieve the aspirational targets we set for ourselves seven years ago. No-one foresaw the entire global foodservice sector’s shutdown in 2020 as a result of Covid-19. Venison, as a niche product targeting high-end restaurants, was impacted particularly hard and prices almost halved,” Wills says.

“But P2P has seen the five venison marketing companies working together for the good of New Zealand deer farmers. Without P2P we would not have had the Advance Party (AP) programme, a wonderful farmer network, which has helped deer farmers with [the] dissemination of new ideas and information,” Wills says.

On farm, productivity improvement has been reflected in a 4% increase in national fawn survival rates, and a 4 kg lift in average carcase weights from 55 kg to 59 kg.

“The journey is still underway. I hope the team approach endures for the venison marketers. Also, that work continues on assisting deer farmers with their environmental and climate challenges,” Wills says.

DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat says a raft of resources were developed for deer farmers under P2P as well as methods to ensure adoption of new management techniques and technology. These will stand farmers in good stead for the future

“Resources include the Deer Hub online, the Deer Fact sheet series, tools to monitor growth and reproduction and the setting of key performance indicators. Farmers engaged with productivity improvement initiatives in the early part of the programme then, as the programme’s focus shifted, into improving environmental management,” he says.

“For me, the enthusiastic engagement from our deer farmers in P2P programmes has been the highlight. We are taking the enthusiasm that has been with us since day one of the programme, through into our future work. Our objective is to continue to help farmers to profitably produce premium products from New Zealand’s extensive pasturelands for discerning consumers around the world.”

Deer Industry NZ thanks DINZ staff, contractors, facilitators, members of the theme groups and the P2P Advisory Group and Marketing Working Group for their passion and dedication to the work of the programme.

“Finally,” says Bruce Wills, “our appreciation must go to both the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor and his predecessor Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy for their support of the P2P programme. The Primary Growth Partnerships and Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures programmes are great concepts, for which the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) should be applauded.”

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