A European venison trial designed to encourage European consumers to eat the meat in the summer shows there is potential to sell more high-quality product at a premium price out of the game season.
Alliance Group has just completed a trial with Belgium retail giant Metro Cash & Carry to promote Alliance Cervena™ venison as a summer product to Europe’s food service sector.
The cooperative dispatched weekly shipments of chilled venison processed at its Makarewa and Smithfield plants to Belgium from April through until August this year.
Metro partnered with Belgium’s Jeunes Restaurateurs (JRE), a network of young and upcoming chefs, who tried venison on their menus and promoted and endorsed the product.
Alliance marketing manager Terry O’Connell says the cooperative is encouraged by the programme’s progress and plans to repeat the exercise next year.
“There was enthusiasm from the chefs to try out new and interesting menu ideas featuring Alliance Cervena, particularly as a summer option and the feedback was positive.
“It demonstrated that there is potential to position Alliance Cervena away from the European game season, to being a premium meat that is consumed year-round.”
The programme targeted the foodservice sector, including chefs, hotels and restaurants, with demonstrations and tastings. There was also instore displays, advertising, mail-outs, special offers, social media activity and a two-day farm-themed workshop, which showcased selected products to 80 chefs in June.
The trial shipment to Belgium included legs, French rack and tenderloins.
O’Connell says the trial represents an important first step in the cooperative’s plan to generate additional value for farmer-shareholders by promoting Alliance Cervena to customers as a summer meat.
“Supply is not currently aligned with the peak-demand opportunity and there is a limited window for peak returns so this trial is a vital part of our venison programme.”
The European venison trial is one initiative in the $16 million seven-year Passion2Profit (P2P) programme. P2P is a joint venture between the New Zealand deer industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries under the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP). P2P is intended to be a major shift in terms of product innovation and market development.