The five venison marketing companies involved in the Passion2Profit (P2P) strategy are supporting a venison marketing pilot, designed to identify an entry strategy for China. The project is being conducted by a market-based partner of Mountain River Venison.
At the direction of the marketers, the Passion2Profit (P2P) Primary Growth Programme recently completed market research in China. Deer Industry NZ P2P manager Innes Moffat says this identified major cultural, culinary and historical barriers to venison gaining widespread consumer appeal there.
In addition, Silver Fern Farms has carried out research into consumer attitudes on branding red meat in China and Alliance Group is exploring the potential of venison with Grand Farm, its Chinese partner.
“To sell New Zealand venison profitably in a western market, customers need to be willing to pay a premium for an exotic meat that has been grass-fed and is served rare. This is not mainstream China, at least not now,” says Moffat.
“For example, the consumer research confirmed that consumers don’t tend to like taking risks with new meats when fine dining. Also many Chinese culinary techniques traditionally attempt to denature meat. This style of cooking removes the advantages New Zealand farm-raised venison has in terms of tenderness and taste over cheaper meats.
“The work now being done under the P2P programme aims to break China down into smaller target markets, city by city, identifying niches that may be attractive from a New Zealand venison industry perspective. Our challenge is to find those niches and to provide venison to them in a form that has local appeal, while still being profitable for exporters.”
The chilled venison marketing pilot project will look at high-end western, Chinese and hotel restaurants, with support from DINZ consultant chef Graham Brown. He will work with chefs to identify the culinary approach, the cuts and cooking styles that have potential. The outcome will be reported back to the marketing companies in April 2017.
Mountain River Venison marketing manager John Sadler says his company has been targeting restaurants in high-end hotels where main dishes selling anywhere from 158-800 RMB (NZ$35-$180) a plate.
“To get the value out of the market, you have to have the right product,” says Sadler. He cites venison shanks and venison rib, cuts that are ideally suited to the slow cooking which is a traditional part of Chinese cuisine.
You also need the right attitude.
“Chefs have difficulty getting high quality product because of the lack of a good distribution system. So if you can solve these problems you have a step in the door,” he says. As an example, he says his distributor delivers to New Zealand venison customers like the five-star Park Hyatt hotel in Shanghai using a high-tech chilly bin that can be wheeled along the footpath (pictured).