Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Velvet grading under review

Possible changes to the velvet grading system are under discussion.

Talks aimed at making grading changes to send “clear market signals to growers” were held with a small group of producers, processors and exporters in May, DINZ velvet marketing services manager Rhys Griffiths says.

The review was the upshot of changing market dynamics, in particular a greater focus by Chinese and Korean buyers on the high-value parts – such as jelly tip – of the velvet stick.

“It’s got to the point where there’s a slight misalignment of how our velvet is graded,” Griffiths says.

He did not expect a greater number of grades but there could be a “rationalisation or rejigging” of one or two grades.

One possibility could be to segregate traditional from non-typical velvet and market them as two distinct products.

The growing disparity between what New Zealand produced and how buyer demand has changed was highlighted by PGGWrightson velvet manager Tony Cochrane at the May deer industry conference.

“The dilemma we have is that the proportion of Super-A is growing but the prices have swung the other way and that’s due to the influence of China.”

He said that in 2002, Super-A comprised 6.2% of velvet volume and fetched $130/kg, compared with regrowth velvet at $85/kg. Fast forward 10 years and the tables had turned: Super-A accounted for 18% of marketed volume and averaged $100/kg and regrowth $110/kg.

Griffiths said that any changes to velvet grading would be made after wider consultation and implemented by the start of the new selling season.

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