Positive progress with Cervena in Europe

Deer Industry NZ chef Shannon Campbell demonstrates Cervena know-how to chefs at an event in Holland organised by Dutch wholesaler Hanos and BBQ manufacturer Big Green Egg.

The five major venison marketers that have been collaborating in the trial marketing of Cervena venison in the Netherlands and Belgium during the northern summer have agreed to continue the trial for a third year. 

Cervena comes from grass-fed farmed deer under three years of age. It is marketed by Alliance Group, Duncan New Zealand, Mountain River, First Light Foods and Silver Fern Farms, all of whom are participating in the trial.

Deer Industry NZ venison market manager Marianne Wilson says that in the second year of the trial, 50 tonnes of venison were sold chilled during the northern summer instead of being frozen for consumption in the winter game season. It will have sold at a Euro 2.50/kg premium compared to frozen cuts.

The trial is a key part of Passion2Profit – a Primary Growth Partnership (P2P) programme between DINZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Importers and distributors in the market have expressed enthusiasm for the results to date and are keen to progress to year 3 of the trial. In addition, all the chefs we surveyed after the second year commented on the quality of the venison and its suitability for summer eating,” she says.

“It was fantastic to see the chefs consistently mentioning that Cervena suits summer cuisine and works perfectly as a summer dining option – they really identified with our approach. This is a positive indicator, as the vast majority of European chefs have traditionally insisted that venison could only be cooked in the winter game season.”

Wilson says the trial has had two main aims: First, to develop a marketing model for Cervena as a novel summer grilling item, which could then be adapted to other regions in Europe. Second, to explore opportunities for collaboration between the marketers.

“So far, the trial is going well on both fronts. In 2017, we will be refining things further, with a focus on communicating what makes Cervena venison unique and on educating chefs,” she says.

“We want to ensure that when diners are presented with a Cervena dish in summer that chefs can satisfactorily explain what it is. We don’t have the resources to educate consumers, so we need to work alongside chefs and use their influence to help get the message out.”

Wilson says they will be communicating a simple message: that Cervena is ‘now in season’, it comes from young grass-fed NZ deer and its consistent quality and flavour make it ideal for chefs to express their creativity.

“After the trial is finished, there may be some transitional P2P funding, but our aim is to develop demand that will continue into the future on a business-as-usual basis.”


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