New Zealand deer velvet has a bright export future with Korea, according to visiting agency representatives.
Two Korean agency representatives working for Deer Industry NZ in the velvet market, Jongkyu Jang and Fintan Cannon, director and managing director respectively of the Korean agency Latitude, travelled through NZ’s deer farming regions with DINZ market manager Rhys Griffiths.
Cannon said despite the economic impact felt across all global industries during and after the covid-19 pandemic, the market for deer velvet in Korea is strong and growth is evident. Disruptions to the wholesale commodity markets aside, there has been good growth for velvet over the past five years.
The NZ brand is also very strong within Korea and the country is known for its lush nature and environment, Cannon said.
He encouraged continued communication to Korean businesses and customers, referring to the NZ deer farmer story “of superior animal welfare and high quality, premium products”. It is a story “of which Kiwi deer farmers can be very proud”.
Two drivers were identified that will help create demand.
The first is the research underway into the health benefits of deer velvet, which will be used to gain Healthy Functional Foods classification once approved by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Another driver is the emerging trend for Korean companies towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks.
“This has really picked up over the last two years. Every company is talking about it,” Jang said.
Griffiths believes the pressure currently being placed on NZ deer farmers’ environmental practices could be used to the sector’s advantage in the marketing of NZ deer velvet exports’ ESG value to key Korean companies and consumers.
He said DINZ is intent on emphasising the extra mile farmers are undertaking in the environmental space.
“Hard graft is a great way to strengthen the story behind the legacy of Kiwi deer farmers,” Griffiths said.
Meantime DINZ is working on changes through its new five-year strategy, which see a focus shift to leading a confident industry into the future.
“We are using the feedback from deer farmers and the wider industry to work through the new implementation plans for the Thriving with Passion industry vision,” DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat said.
“We know that confidence in parts of the sector is lacking at the moment.
“Market conditions are improving but we need to see a path to higher future profit for venison before we get reinvestment.
“DINZ cannot set the price being paid to farmers, but we can influence the participants to encourage more confidence.
“Confidence for the sector comes from profitability, certainty and having a good reputation.”
As part of this DINZ is reviewing its structure and the focus on those services which will underpin the strategic goals.
This includes a proposal to reconfigure resources to meet the opportunities which the industry has to grow the sector for farmers, levy payers and service providers.
Moffat said further updates on how DINZ plans to progress these changes can be expected in the coming weeks.
What won’t change is DINZ’s priority to stand up for its farmers in the agricultural emissions pricing process.
With no announcement yet on the government’s preferred approach, DINZ chair Mandy Bell has reiterated DINZ’s position on the agricultural emissions pricing process, He Waka Eke Noa, which aims to keep farmers out of the Emissions Trading Scheme.
“Firstly it is important to say our priority is and will continue to be to stand up for the best interests of our farmers and levy payers,” Bell said.
“We recognise that agriculture needs to play its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and DINZ has three clear requirements.
“Transition assistance needs to be in place to ensure ongoing business viability, gases should only be priced when cost effective and feasible mitigations are available and that on-farm sequestration is confirmed.”
Bell said DINZ has worked closely with Beef + Lamb NZ and supports its request for a deferral of pricing until outstanding issues are resolved.