Friday, February 23, 2024

Venison anticipates tasty spring prices

Avatar photo
Interest from European buyers and boost to market’s mood align to stoke confidence.
Deer specialist Ron Schroeder says breeders coming off the back of two hard years are now connecting with a softer finishing market.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Improving market sentiment together with strong interest from European buyers is signalling higher prices for New Zealand-farmed venison come spring 2023.  

Venison prospects continue to get better as venison marketing companies host buyers from Europe and the United States, some visiting for the first time in three years, to plan deliveries and promotions for the coming year. 

With a strong game season in 2022, most European importers are buying confidently, aware that venison production is likely to be constrained this year, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) venison marketing manager Nick Taylor said.

“Overall, the markets are painting a continued improving picture for 2023,” he said. 

Exports to the US topped 4000t in 2022, accounting for one-third of the sector’s exports.

China took almost 20%, rising to number two position, with Germany ranked third, taking 15% directly.

Other European customers imported 30% of New Zealand venison exports.

“Our aim is to have a diversified market base with balance across different markets and different sectors,” Taylor said.

The new DINZ work strategy focuses resources on supporting the work the five venison marketing companies are doing to accelerate sales of venison through supermarkets in the US.

“This provides balance to other valuable markets as we look to break with the reliance on frozen commodity trade.

“All venison companies are acutely aware of the need to get the venison schedule up.

“We have put the costs of production in front of them and they are confident of achieving price increases this year,” Taylor said. 

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) has reported a positive EU game season to its suppliers and is seeing an early pick-up in frozen volume from its European customers.

Exporters are seeing signs of market improvement as the global financial squeeze appears to have had less impact to date, SFF general manager sales Peter Robinson said.

With strong forward orders for frozen venison, improving market sentiment and shipping issues continuing to ease, higher prices for spring 2023 are imminent. 

The market for venison and co-products has not reached the highs of 2018, but demand is solid. 

Market conditions in China are improving as businesses open and more people travel.

“If these conditions remain, we should see an improvement in pricing in the year ahead,” Robinson said. 

Adjustments to velvet grades mean growers are now being rewarded for producing the highest value part of the antler.

Meanwhile recent velvet competitions and sire stag sales have showcased the growing trend for quality over weight when it comes to NZ deer velvet, with the focus on round, balanced velvet evident at the annual competitions this season.

That also played out in the three-year-old sire stag sales.

Adjustments to velvet grades and judging criteria mean growers are now being rewarded for responding to commercial market signals and producing the highest value part of the antler.

This helps South Korean health food manufacturers back up their marketing stories as they strive to sell the best quality to consumers.

Nine velvet competitions took place around NZ from November through to the end of February.

There was a good level of entries at all events and “generally, the velvet on display was of a very high standard and well presented”, DINZ producer manager Lindsay Fung said.

He said the strength of velvet competitions is getting deer farmers together and keeping up-to-date on trends. 

Industry research is also providing more information about velvet composition and what that means for the end user.

Because of the growing quality trend for deer velvet, there is also now a clear division between breeding stags for velvet development or for trophy, Fung said. 

People are also reading