“There’s so much going on in the market. Food service is set to be disrupted more and that’s a big deal for the deer industry, it’s not good news,” Mountain River manager John Sadler told the Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) 2020 final virtual conference session.
“Unfortunately, the continuing uncertainty will impact on the prospect for the chilled season,” he said.
“The challenges just keep coming and we’re faced with trying to move more product into retail because freight services are so seriously disrupted, and I think we will see that continuing through the season.”
Sadler said chilled products are becoming a logistical problem because of the transit times in getting the product to Europe.
“Sea freight vessels are taking longer creating issues with storing and selling into retail and air freight has gone sky high, double what it has been,” he explained.
“We have worked with our partner in Europe to develop some chilled retail products, marinating frozen products and offering grilling options for the barbecue.
“These sorts of innovative options are going to be the way we will be able to sell more retail.”
Alliance marketing manager Terry O’Connell said covid-19 uncertainty has put spring schedule pricing in a tailspin.
“While there is good chatter out there some of these key importers are hesitant to engage because they are worried about a second (covid) wave coming through and affecting food service again, ” O’Connell said.
“It’s a really difficult position we’re in at the moment but we are still confident there will be demand for venison in the game season.”
Understanding new needs for the future is a work in progress that has been magnified in the post-covid market space.
Silver Fern Farms (SFF) sales manager Glen McLennan said one of the biggest learnings to come from the covid-19 pandemic is the need to have a diverse range of market options and channels.
“We have been working hard to extend the range that we sell into and the New Zealand retail market has been a key part of that,” he said.
McLennan said the retail sector is challenging due to the lack of knowledge around how products are cooked.
“I believe we’ve successfully marketed our branded retail packs in NZ and that’s been so successful we are expanding to launch into the US.
“We are now running promotions into the main season to encourage home cooking trends.”
Adding China continues to show some promising markets, including in pet food.
Duncan NZ Venison marketing manager Jared Sandri said with the worldwide pandemic impacting all global markets there has been limited chance to identify new markets.
“So with that, we have focused on the NZ market and looked at ways to help people with their shopping habits and cooking trends, and a lot of that is purchasing food online.
“It has helped that a lot of people are supporting local produce and companies when sourcing protein,” Sandri said.
“While we can’t travel (overseas) we have got to trust customers and be supportive of them in their demand in the meantime.
For First Light venison, general manager Toni Frost said the focus is on building business with the lower value convenience products.
“We are thinking outside the square to power on forward and find new ways of venison for the future.
“Retail is not an easy challenge or solution for business but we are investing in that channel, especially in the US with the support we have there.”
DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor said covid-19 underscores the importance of market diversification and product options.
“As we are planning our activities into the future, it’s thinking about how we can support companies to undertake some of that market exploration work into new markets which is challenging and takes time and energy.”
DINZ has increased funding available for new industry marketing initiatives.
“We’ve got a fantastic story about the product and the provenance of the product and our farmers who are supplying it and everyone has agreed there’s huge opportunity.
“I believe we are well-placed to keep moving that story and taking it out to the world,” Taylor added.