SFF Futures funding approved, North American retail accelerator a go

Jul 8, 2024

Last week on Monday, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) launched its North American Retail Accelerator project after MPI approved DINZ’s funding application under the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) programme. The agreement will see MPI contribute a third of the $4.9 million investment, with the five venison exporters and DINZ making up the other two thirds.

The project, which started 1 July, will lift demand for New Zealand venison through the retail market, and is forecast to deliver an initial return of $20 million, or 4:1 return of investment.

Rhys Griffiths, interim DINZ chief executive, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, "The SFF Futures North American Retail Accelerator will leverage great work done by companies and open doors wider for the deer industry. By creating a robust and stable market in North America, we are not only diversifying our export base but also ensuring sustainable growth for our farmers. This project exemplifies our commitment to innovation and excellence in the global marketplace."

The project will enable New Zealand producers to connect more closely with our consumers, using retail channels to diversify away from a historic reliance on the food service sector. It will also enable the industry to tell its story directly to our consumers, highlighting the sustainable farming systems we use and building a general awareness of New Zealand grass-fed venison.

“This project has been a long time in the making, so it’s great news that it has officially kicked off – a huge thank you to MPI,” says Virginia Connell, DINZ assistant markets manager. “I’m looking forward to growing the “New Zealandness” of venison in the North American market and really building on our reputation for excellent farming practice. While this project is focused specifically on retail, it will ultimately create awareness across all sectors as education spreads on New Zealand venison.”

The SFF Futures North American Retail Accelerator includes all five New Zealand venison processing companies, namely: Alliance Group, Silver Fern Farms, First Light Foods, Duncan, and Mountain River Venison.

The project will be overseen by a project steering committee chaired by Scott Champion, with the rest of the group made up of Mark O’Connor, representing the venison exporter companies; Paddy Boyd as farmer representative; signatory representatives from DINZ and MPI; and the DINZ SFF Futures project team.

As an industry, we are poised to achieve new growth and establish New Zealand venison as a premium choice in the North American market.

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