Feb 17, 2022
Published schedules to venison farmers are continuing to increase and at around $7.80 a kilogram are their highest since Covid-19 first made its presence felt in early 2020.
DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat says the recovery is expected to continue during 2022, with the annual spring peak in prices expected to reach “close to pre-Covid levels”.
The recovery has been driven by a good 2021 game season in Europe, which saw good sales and some optimism for the year ahead, the recovery of the food service sector in the USA, and successful market development activities in China, the United States and elsewhere.
Latest statistics bear this out. Overall exports of venison reached 14,762 tonnes in the year ending 31 December 2021, up from 11,793 tonnes the year before. This, says Moffat, reflects the stock management in New Zealand at the end of 2020 and its sale during 2021.
Sales to China increased from 1121 tonnes in 2020 to 1922 tonnes in 2021. In the United States sales increased reached 3600 tonnes, up 1000 tonnes on the year before.
The United States has long been an important food service market for NZ venison, but until two years ago, NZ venison did not have a significant retail or on-line presence there.
“As part of the industry’s Covid recovery strategy the five venison companies prioritised North American retail and on-line market development. It’s going very well and all the companies now have a much bigger customer base there.
“Direct to consumer and on-line sales took a while to get moving, but the volumes companies are now selling through these channels, alongside the new retail business, will start making a material difference to the returns to deer farmers.
“We have seen demand recover from food service in the USA as well as our traditional European markets. But it’s important that the industry keeps investing in these new channels so we have a more balanced portfolio and reduce the risks of the booms and busts that affect food exporters.
“With shipping delays we are not seeing the volume of chilled venison exports we had prior to Covid, which is currently limiting the upside, and airfreight remains limited, and expensive. We are also very mindful that Covid has not gone away – it could affect processing throughput here in New Zealand, and market access in some countries, but we believe the days of lock-downs are behind us.”