Monday, April 22, 2024

Consumer education key to venison market

Neal Wallace
The country’s largest venison processor is eyeing China as a potential game-changer for the struggling market. Silver Fern Farms (SFF) has dedicated staff in its China office to build on recent market success, which has seen a 180% increase in year-on-year sales of venison with indications that growth will continue.
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The country’s largest venison processor is eyeing China as a potential game-changer for the struggling market.

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) has dedicated staff in its China office to build on recent market success, which has seen a 180% increase in year-on-year sales of venison with indications that growth will continue.

Foodservice sales in Beijing and Shanghai alone have increased 100% on last year.

In a newsletter to suppliers, SFF says its focus is on retail but with the pandemic changing consumer buying behaviours, it has three venison products for sale on the e-commerce platform Newdodo.

“This continues to be an ongoing test-and-learn channel, however, it holds significant potential going forward,” SFF said in its letter.

Venison’s use in premium pet food has also grown.

Promotion of venison was boosted by inclusion this year in Asia’s largest foodservice show, SIAL Shanghai for the first time.

“SIAL is Asia’s largest foodservice show, with over 4500 companies from around the world showcased and over 100,000 attendees throughout the three-day expo,” it said.

“SFF introduced two new products, being our grass-fed venison ribs and venison cubes.”

A lack of consumer knowledge about venison, hesitancy due to the perception it is a game meat and its relative unavailability, has hampered development of the Chinese market to date. SFF is rectifying that by educating chefs and consumers through workshops, demonstrations, food shows and on-the-ground research.

“Chinese consumers’ knowledge about venison is low and improving this awareness is a major part of our strategy,” it said.

It was recently awarded funding from DINZ to help accelerate a market development programme in China, dubbed the Venison Recovery Plan.

“Venison’s current market size is still small and it’s a niche product within the red meat category,” it said.

“Venison is not a well-recognised product in retail and in the covid environment retailers have looked to narrow their product base, rather than launch new ones.”

In other venison markets, exporters continue to face spikes of outbreaks creating varying states of uncertainty, which SFF says stresses the need for the industry to break the traditional reliance on EU and US foodservice and find new markets and channels.

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