Cervena venison is to be marketed in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial.
Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says the trial, while relatively small, is symbolically very important. Traditionally, the deer industry has been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which is highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter, she says.
“Marketing Cervena venison in Germany as a lighter summer eating option, suitable for grilling, is a challenge but it’s a journey we want to begin. Chefs across Europe are now showing more interest in innovative summer menu items, so the timing is positive.”
Wilson says Cervena is an appellation owned by venison producers and the five main venison marketers. Cervena is delicately-flavoured, tender, grass-fed venison from New Zealand farmed deer less than three-years of age.
“In recent years Cervena sales to North America have grown steadily to the point where the United States is now New Zealand’s largest year-round market for chilled venison. The challenge now is to replicate that success in Europe during the summer, when game meat demand is at its lowest,” she says.
Exporters and DINZ have had positive results and feedback from the first two years of a three-year trial exploring the market potential for summer sales of chilled Cervena in the Netherlands and Belgium.
“The exporters are targeting more than 80 tonnes of Cervena at premium prices to those countries over summer, when demand would traditionally be very low. We have learnt lessons there that we are now ready to apply to Germany.”
The trials are part of Passion2Profit (P2P) – a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between DINZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries. All five major venison marketers and DINZ collaborate and share the trials’ insights and results, even though not all the exporters are involved in every trial.
“Initially, only Silver Fern Farms will be offering Cervena for sale in the 2017 German trial. It will be marketing Cervena venison to German chefs and restaurants for the first time,” Wilson says.
“The Cervena venison will be marketed from April to July, well separated from cuts marketed as ‘New Zealand venison’, sold in the traditional game season, from September to December. Silver Fern Farms will be working with three food service distributors that specialise in fine foods – businesses that deliver high quality innovative products to top restaurants,” Wilson says.
“Alliance Group will develop a food service channel for Cervena in Germany this year, with the aim of launching in 2018.”
She says the trial comes at a time when venison demand across all markets is strong and supply is short.
“What we are doing is laying the groundwork for the future. The industry is going through a herd rebuilding phase at present and when venison production inevitably increases, we want to have more year-round markets offering premium prices primed and ready to go.”