A major new campaign to test Europeans’ appetite for venison in the summer has been launched in Belgium.
Alliance Group is working with Belgian retail giant Metro Cash & Carry to promote Cervena™ venison as a summer product to Europe’s food service sector and ultimately sell more high-quality venison worldwide at a premium price outside of the traditional game season.
The venison marketing initiative is part of 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.
Alongside supply from other New Zealand venison marketing companies, Alliance Group will begin weekly shipments of chilled venison processed at its Makarewa and Smithfield plants to Belgium from this month through until August.
Terry O’Connell, marketing manager at Alliance, says the co-operative hopes to generate additional value for farmer-shareholders by promoting Cervena to customers as a summer meat.
“Currently, supply is not aligned with the peak-demand opportunity and there is a limited window for peak returns. This initiative aims to align our production capabilities with market demand and extend the premium return beyond the limited game season.”
He says Cervena needs to be carefully positioned away from the European game season, to being a premium meat that is consumed year-round.
The programme will initially target the foodservice sector, including chefs, hotels and restaurants, with demonstrations, tastings and events.
“Our own research shows that Cervena’s delicate texture and taste lends itself to a lighter, contemporary cuisine so we’re confident this programme will resonate with European consumers.”
If successful, the cooperative will also explore expanding the programme to other new seasonal markets, he said.
“This is another demonstration of our focus on capturing greater market value by getting better at matching the company’s products and markets and leading the way in exploring new opportunities in existing markets.”
Deer Industry NZ chief executive Dan Coup welcomed the launch of the campaign by a group of venison marketing companies.
“This initiative is part of the P2P’s vision to ensure lean, tender, farm-raised venison is positioned as a luxury red meat consumed year-round in new markets and market segments.”