Cervena promotions refreshed in the United States

 The United States is the largest year-round market for chilled New Zealand venison, with 600 tonnes worth $NZ 12 million sold there in the year ended 30 September 2015. To grow the market even further, Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) has fine-tuned its promotional strategy in North America.

Cervena_ribsNigel Morris, who for several years has been working as a part-time key account manager for DINZ from his Los Angeles base, is now on full-time contract. Also, the definition of cuts that are eligible for the Cervena appellation has been expanded to include all parts of the carcase – not just the traditional high-value prime cuts.

Next year DINZ will also be reviewing its digital communications in North America, with the aim of finding the best ways to communicate with chefs and those who influence their buying decisions.

DINZ venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says DINZ needs to regularly review its activities in major markets, because the expectations of chefs and consumers are constantly changing.

“One thing that hasn’t changed is the popularity of executive chef Graham Brown’s venison cooking demonstrations. He’s a wonderful asset … he makes our venison exciting and breaks down the myths that can be a barrier to sales,” she says.

Before long, Brownie will have a new range of Cervena cuts to demonstrate on his two visits to the US each year. Ribs, shoulder tenders, brisket and indeed anything edible from the tongue to the tail that exporters believe they can find a profitable market for.

“Cervena has always been about the provenance of our wonderful meat, humanely and naturally raised on green pastures and with high standards of animal welfare. But, when Cervena was launched, quality was also strongly linked to top-end cuts like loins and Denver legs.

“This has changed,” Wilson says. “White tablecloth restaurants now offer cuts from all parts of the animal. Beef cheek and brisket and pork belly are good examples of cuts that reflect this trend.”

It’s one thing to identify an opportunity like this. It’s another to convert it into sales.

“Most distributors of New Zealand venison in the United States offer their chef customers a huge product list. To encourage them to put our venison first, we need to make the distributors’ job easier,” Wilson says.

“There’s huge competition out there among naturally raised meats. The noise is huge, we’re competing with grass-fed beef, bison and wild boar. There are so many meats we sit alongside.

“That’s where Nigel Morris comes in. He works with exporters and their distributors to offer chefs menu solutions involving NZ venison. He allows us to be heard by a much wider audience.

“Where a restaurant chain is involved, he will work with the distributor’s representative to help make a sales pitch. If they want Brownie involved, he can organise that too.”

A big opportunity Morris is pursuing are major 21st century businesses like LinkedIn and SpaceX. These businesses serve several thousand high quality meals a day in their in-house restaurants and their executives host high-end events regularly.

“These restaurants serve more protein in a day than many restaurants serve in a month. That’s the opportunity for us. Our goal is to ensure Cervena venison is part of that protein mix,” Morris says.

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