Spring venison prices, driven by strong demand, low stocks in Europe and successful market diversification, are partially offsetting the impact of the strengthening New Zealand dollar on farmer returns.
Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says some importers are nervous about how the market will react to current prices, while others are confident – buoyed by the knowledge that New Zealand venison production is down around 25 percent on last year.
“Indeed with supply down, some exporters have remarked we are somewhat lucky that autumn temperatures in Europe are unseasonably warm. It often takes a good cold snap to get everyone in the mood to start eating traditional hearty game dishes,” she says.
She says some exporters have indicated we could see a return to the usual throughput levels in October and November, as yearling stags reach target slaughter weights and the European game season gets into full swing.
Wilson says the average stag schedule price is now at a five-year high of $8.83 a kilo (gross), up from $8.56 this time last year. This compares with a 10-year average of $8.21 for the third week in September. She says some exporters have issued long-term contracts for spring supply at agreed prices.
At $NZ65 c to the Euro, the Kiwi dollar has firmed by about 17 per cent on the same time last year. The Kiwi is 30 percent stronger than it was in 2008, when the venison schedule reached a 10-year September high of $9.41 a kilo (gross).
“The reduction in supply to Europe is not only because of falling venison production, it also reflects the success of exporters, in-market partners and DINZ in building year-round demand outside the European game season,” Wilson says.
“In the last few years, there has been a steady growth in year-round venison sales to North America to the point where it is now our largest chilled market and a major market for processing venison. This is strategically important to the industry because it makes us less reliant on sales in Euros.”