While this strategy sounds a bit left-field as a way to promote New Zealand-farmed venison, the Frankfurt Book Fair was a marriage made in heaven.
As it was NZ’s turn to be the Book Fair Country of Honour, the NZ Government and exporters pulled out the stops to showcase not only books, but Kiwi products. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage funded $5 million towards a NZ pavilion to promote tourism, books, food and beverages.
NZ venison, lamb and wine growers worked together to run a parallel culinary festival, known as “New Zealand is Cooking”, at the same time and location as the fair. Venison was cooked for visitors and food writers and a new venison cookbook promoted.
Chefs had easy access to NZ venison through an initiative by Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ). A small sample of free venison was supplied to up-market Frankfurt restaurants as long as they agreed to name it on the menu as NZ venison. DINZ was aiming for 30 restaurants to serve NZ venison in the week-long initiative but 40 signed up.
Having so many restaurants use and promote NZ venison in one city was unprecedented, said DINZ Venison Marketing Services Manager Innes Moffat. Typically German restaurants were reluctant to list imported ingredients on their menus.
“A measure of success is that numerous chefs have indicated they will continue to serve New Zealand venison instead of locally sourced product,” he said. “The chefs tell us it simply is a better product.”
One huge part of the Book Fair is cookery books. A NZ venison cookbook Moderne Wildküche – Kochen mit Neuseelandhirsch (Modern game cooking – Cooking with NZ Venison) was launched at the fair, showcasing 48 recipes.
Experienced venison chef Graham Brown provided tastings for those at the Frankfurt Book Fair. New Zealand was the country of honour at the giant publishing fair, providing an opportunity to showcase Kiwi products beyond books. Forty restaurants in Frankfurt took up the offer to serve New Zealand venison during the Frankfurt Book Fair, naming it on their menus ahead of local product.