Deer farmers are enjoying the best venison prices in four years, a reflection of good demand in overseas markets and favourable currency movements.
At $8.63, the spring peak of the 2015 venison schedule was 11 percent higher than 2014 and the highest since 2011, says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup.
“Venison prices peak each year in spring in response to demand from traditional game meat markets in Europe. Demand for chilled venison during the 2015 season was solid, with air freight shipments continuing up to Christmas.”
The average stag venison schedule now stands at 728 cents per kg, compared with 630 c/kg at the same time last year – an increase of 16 percent. This reflects an 11 percent currency gain and a 5 percent market gain.
Digging a little deeper into the figures, Coup says the market price gain reflects a 12 per cent increase in the per kilogram value of chilled venison exports.
“Chilled exports made up 17 per cent by volume and 30 per cent by value of total venison exports in 2015,” he says. “The total value of chilled exports increased by 10 percent while the volume dropped by 1 percent. Overall venison exports dropped in volume by 5 percent to 15,035 tonnes.”
Coup says a key industry objective is to build year-round demand for chilled venison at premium prices in new markets and new segments of existing markets. It is also the focus of the Passion2Profit strategy, a Primary Growth Partnership programme between DINZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
“At present, the largest year-round market for chilled NZ venison is North America, with 600 tonnes worth $12 million sold there in 2015,” he says.
“Sales there have been under the Cervena promotional banner since the appellation was launched in 1993. This year, we will be undertaking further activity in new Cervena markets like the Netherlands which are part of P2P, as well as existing Cervena markets like North America which are not.”
The industry hopes that the success of these strategies will be reflected in sustainable increases in both venison prices and deer herd numbers.
Hinds made up nearly 55 per cent of last year’s venison kill, which means the national breeding herd and the annual venison kill will continue to decline. The total kill in the 12 months to 30 November (stags and hinds) was 383,740, down 7.5 percent on the same period in 2014.
“One of the reasons why there is a high proportion of hinds in the kill is that some farmers are retaining stags to rebuild their velvet herds, in response to a five-year run of firm velvet prices,” Coup says.
“All the same, it would be good to see hinds making up a little less than 50 per cent of the total. This would result in a small annual increase in the hind herd, which has to be for the long-term good of the industry.”