Venison demand improves, but shipping remains dire | Issue 171

Oct 8, 2021

The gradual opening up of Europe on the back of growing vaccination rates is good news for venison producers. There’s healthy demand for chilled venison from restaurants opening for the game season – the challenge for exporters is getting it there.

Data from Opentable shows that German consumers were out supporting restaurants over the summer, with patronage 60% higher than in 2019 at the height of summer.  It is currently sitting at around 20% above 2019 levels. The European hospitality scene has been well supported over the last two years which has enabled most restaurants to remain open. The hope is that with high vaccination rates in Europe and the requirement to have a vaccine passport to dine in restaurants, customers will continue to eat out over the next few months.

Marketers are also expecting there will be significant inroads made in the stocks of frozen venison carried forward from the 2020 season.

Deer Industry NZ CEO Innes Moffat notes that “European importers have bought larger volumes of venison this year than in previous years, and are reporting that their retail and cash and carry customers have ordered well for the coming season.”

Offsetting this good news is the expectation among venison marketers that shipping delays and resurgent Delta infections will disrupt the trade in the months ahead.

As reported by the business intelligence services like Forbes, there is massive dislocation in global supply chains, affecting shipping routes, ports, air cargo, trucking lines, railways and even warehouses. Supply shortages, order backlogs, delivery delays and spikes in transport costs are the order of the day.

“Transport issues are a real challenge particularly to the chilled season. There is the real risk that the shipment will be held up in a port somewhere, meaning that its shelf life is reduced by the time it gets to the importer” Moffat says.

“On the other hand, if exporters send venison by air, they are faced with greatly increased air freight costs, which erode the better prices they are achieving in the marketplace.”

Moffat says air freight has traditionally been carried on passenger jets, but with the collapse of global tourism as a result of Covid, air freight is now having to pay its way – a situation that is unlikely to change in the near future.

Shannon Campbell, the Kiwi chef who works for DINZ in Germany, is currently busy traversing Europe and the United Kingdom, boosting links with retailers and distributors and capitalising on the new-found retail interest in venison.

“We recently had our first large event since Covid began, with over 250 guests. It was great to see people coming out again and attending big events.”

While some in person events are starting to return, many large tradeshows are still taking place virtually. This has seen Shannon producing several video demonstrations for use at virtual tradeshows.

Shannon is currently in Sweden supporting Mountain River with events targeting both chefs and consumers through activities with supermarkets.


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