Summer success for Cervena Benelux

Deer Industry NZ chef Shannon Campbell (right) is part of the team working to persuade Benelux chefs to try Cervena venison as a lighter option for summer menus.

Year two of the programme trialling Cervena® venison as a summer menu option in the Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Benelux) region has encouraged exporters, their market partners and chefs to continue and expand the programme in 2017.

The Cervena Benelux programme is a major part of the seven-year Passion2Profit (P2P) Primary Growth Partnership programme co-funded by the deer industry and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Three of the five venison exporters are collaborating in the trial – First Light Venison, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group. Each has been working with their in-market foodservice wholesaler – Hanos, Sligro and Metro, respectively – on a series of promotional activities, including in-store tastings and events, recipes, chef competitions, promotional material and public relations.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson, explains the immediate programme goal – agreed by the marketing working group of all five venison exporters, DINZ and MPI – is to target Belgian and Dutch chefs positioning Cervena venison as a premium, high-value and lighter meat suitable for summer meals. The model will be extended to other non-traditional markets.

“The ultimate goal is to lift all year round sales of chilled New Zealand venison and to ensure 1,200 tonnes of venison will be available for those non-traditional markets,” she says.

Approximately 50 tonnes of chilled New Zealand venison was sold during the promotion period, gaining a premium of €2.50 per kg over the range of equivalent frozen cuts.

Benelux chefs have been enticed to try Cervena at demonstrations like this one in the region.

“Overall, exporters and their marketing partners say the promotion has been successful from their point of view this year. We’ve also had very encouraging feedback from chefs who have been well motivated to turn out for events and promotions and are enthusiastic to continue using Cervena in 2017.”

Wilson is pleased too the summer eating message seems to be getting through.

“The large majority of the chefs spoken to during the assessment process see Cervena as high quality and good value. They also accept Cervena is a good option for summer menus, which is the change we really want to see,” she says.

The Cervena trial capitalises on chefs wanting to offer new and unique taste experiences to their diners.

Based on the year-two assessment, the marketing working group has decided to continue with the summer positioning in year three, along with the premium pricing strategy. The programme in 2017 will reinforce key messages about the quality and availability of Cervena to ensure consistency between the participating
companies. Additional activities will be introduced to target diners to increase their acceptance of venison in the summer.

“We will work with distributors, wholesalers and waiting staff,  alongside the chefs, to help get the message out that Cervena is ‘now in season’, that it comes from young grass-fed deer and its consistent quality and flavour make it ideal for chefs to express their creativity,” says Wilson.

This article first appeared in Deer Industry News magazine (February/March 2017) and is reproduced here with permission.

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