Venison price curve returns

Venison price curve returns

Friday, August 23, 2019

Deer farmers are starting to see a return of the seasonal venison price increase that has traditionally occurred in spring each year. This follows an unusual 2017/18 season, which saw venison prices climb steadily from January 2017, before peaking in October last year.

DINZ chief executive Dan Coup says the return of the spring peak hasn’t come as a surprise, but he hopes that the peaks and troughs in the seasonal price curve will be less marked than in the past. This is because of the industry’s success in developing year-round markets for chilled venison.

Venison finishers at Waihi Pukawa Station, near Tokaanu. Deer like these can once again expect to attract a price premium if they ready for processing in spring for the chilled venison market

“Last year was a real anomaly, with late August schedule prices $2 a kg more than they are now. This was partly driven by a gold-rush from United States petfood-grade products, which reached $6 a kg – a level that couldn’t be sustained,” he says.

The average price for petfood-grade products has since fallen to around $3.50 a kg, accounting for about $1 a kg in the drop in prices paid to farmers. 

“The average farmgate venison stag price on 19 August was $9.06 a kilogram. If we put 2017 and 2018 to one side, this is about $1.50 a kg ahead of where it was in the previous five seasons,” Coup says.

“As we move into September and October, prices for venison animals for chilled season supply are expected to firm further, by around $1 a kg, depending on the contract the farmer has with their venison marketer. Then, as we move through November – all things being equal – the marketers expect prices will ease again. That’s your normal seasonal price curve.”

Coup says markets and prices are unpredictable and – as with the petfood spike -- sometimes obscure long-term drivers of demand.

“One of the most important of these, year-in year-out, is the spring market for chilled venison from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere in northern Europe. The price premiums paid for supply during this period normally make it worthwhile for some farmers to have stags ready for processing from August through to early November.

“This is quite dependent on their farm system. For instance, whether the farm has early growth genetics, early pasture production or is likely to dry-out early in the summer.”

He says one of the industry’s successes is that it has built a preference for NZ farm-raised venison in this premium market. In the past the European chilled market favoured feral or wild game and venison from other countries, so maintaining supply is important for the industry’s long-term future.

“If there’s another gold-rush, we will of course bank it, but the main focus of marketing companies and DINZ is to maintain European chilled season demand while building year-round demand elsewhere,” Coup says.

“Our Cervena venison programme in North America has succeeded with this to the point where the USA is now our largest chilled venison market. That programme is now being expanded into Canada.

“In northern Europe, in the face of centuries of tradition, we are pioneering the sale of Cervena venison as a summer grilling item as part of our Primary Growth Partnership programme, Passion2Profit. Individual exporters, with DINZ support, have also developed useful markets such as Scandinavia.”

Coup says the premium petfood market is still a useful outlet for offals and manufacturing grades of venison, albeit at prices that are more sustainable for customers.

Other important elements in the prices paid to farmers include Asian co-products like blood, pizzles, sinews and tails, all of which are enjoying strong demand.