Phase 2 for Cervena in Europe planned for March

Chef Sam Van Houcke of restaurant Onder De Toren competing in the 2015 Hanos Cervena cooking competition.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) and the five major venison exporters have agreed in principle to go ahead with the second stage of the pilot for marketing Cervena venison in Europe.

This follows the first pilot in 2015, in which Cervena was sold as a spring/summer grilling item in the Netherlands for the first time. Firstlight Foods and its distributor were involved in a Passion2Profit-funded trial and Silver Fern Farms did a trial of their own.

This time, three exporters – Alliance, Firstlight Foods and Silver Fern Farms – and their distributors in Netherlands and Belgium will be involved with the knowledge and agreement of the five main venison exporting companies.

“The exporters and DINZ have agreed that this second P2P-funded pilot should start in March. It will involve three distributors selling to food service and chefs during the 2016 northern hemisphere spring and summer,” says DINZ P2P manager Innes Moffat.

“Cervena is an appellation, like Champagne, not a brand like Moet. So there are a few details still to be sorted, such as how the appellation will appear relative to the marketer’s brand.

“DINZ will support what individual companies do in the marketplace, but at the same time the core messages they are communicating about Cervena need to be consistent. Chefs need know what Cervena is, regardless of the brand.”

Moffat says that in 2015 the exporters sold 37 tonnes of Cervena venison. In 2016 they are looking for a doubling of volumes and future growth in the years after.

“As part of the Passion2Profit strategy we are aiming to create new non-seasonal market segments for venison at chilled prices. The Netherlands and Belgium make up one of these segments. They have a strong game meat tradition, but this is highly seasonal.

“To sell them Cervena as a spring/summer grilling item, we need to be very careful with our positioning. Any association with traditional game detracts from our desire to create demand during the spring and summer.”

In the first pilot, the meat was clearly positioned as mild-flavoured farmed Cervena venison from New Zealand. This time the country of origin and farming systems will be played down and the quality of the meat emphasised.

“Nineteen of the 20 ambassador chefs used in this trial said they would buy Cervena again ‘because it is good meat’. The New Zealand origin was not the selling point,” Moffat says.

“Our core message will be that Cervena is new cuisine; naturally raised meat, ideal for spring and summer menus; tender, with a subtle flavour. A high quality meat that will allow chefs to distinguish themselves.”

The Passion2Profit (P2P) strategy is a Primary Growth Partnership joint venture between DINZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

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