Venison marketing managers meetings | Issue 181

Sep 8, 2022

The NZDFA Executive Committee recently had the opportunity to meet with the venison marketing managers from Alliance, Duncan NZ, First Light, Mountain River and Silver Fern Farms. DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor was also in attendance for all five meetings, so was a great opportunity to share the issues and initiatives from all sectors of the industry.

It was reassuring to hear that all the companies are positive about the season ahead on the back of the recent marketing changes they have been making and they are working hard to ensure the upward trend in the venison schedule continues. Building on the gains that have been made in the North American and Chinese markets continue to be a priority, but they are all actively exploring new opportunities to develop in other markets to achieve greater diversity. Europe continues to be an important market, but has also been highlighted as where the most likely headwinds for the industry are likely to come from given the geopolitical issues they are experiencing.

They’re eating our venison here (Sweden).

Within each of the markets they are all looking to move more of the product away from the food service sector, which took a real battering through the covid lockdown period. The objective is to have a greater presence in the retail and online home delivery space, which insulated products such as beef and lamb from the fall in returns that venison experienced. While the restaurant and hotel sector continue to recover and remains the highest value market, now that life is returning to normal, increasing market diversity is still seen as the best way to protect the industry for any potential future shocks ahead.

Retail venison in China.

As farmers we stressed the importance of continuing to see the venison schedule rise, but also regain the premium over lamb in particular that venison requires to be profitable. In areas such as Taihape, where I am based, we have continued to see a reduction in hind numbers this year which are mostly being replaced with breeding ewes and forestry. We stressed that while the five-year average is an important metric for pricing progress, it's the other competing land use options that are driving this change. Additionally, a strong lamb schedule is influencing the decision making of many finishers as to what is the most profitable option for their business and this then potentially flows through the strength of the weaner markets that breeders rely upon. There has also been a transition into more velvetting stags which has less market options than specialist venison operations.

The NZDFA Executive Committee hopes that this opportunity to meet and discuss the issues we face as an industry remains a regular occurrence. Our view has been the more our industry works together the better it will be for the future ahead. We are here to represent all deer farmers, so please let us know your thoughts so we can continue to advocate on your behalf.

- Mark McCoard, NZDFA Executive Committee, Taihape

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