The third year of the Summer Cervena® programme in Europe has seen plenty of activity in Germany and Belgium, holding sales volume of the high-quality chilled venison stable. Venison exporters have all also committed to continue work in the region again next year.
Despite the high prices, sales volumes of the high-quality chilled venison remained at a stable 90 tonnes in the two markets, equating to a value of nearly $3 million, reports Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Nick Taylor, who met with other members of the Marketing Working Group (MWG) recently.
To support the second year of activity in the Germany there has been a special focus on German food trade and media in that market, says Taylor.
As in the Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Cervena promotional activity undertaken by DINZ, as part of the Passion 2 Profit (P2P) Primary Growth Partnership programme, aims to raise awareness of the suitability of Cervena for summer menus with chefs and food influencers. It provides umbrella support for individual exporters’ chilled venison activities in the two markets during the Northern Hemisphere summer months from April through to August.
A press dinner at one of Germany’s top restaurants, the Michelin starred Carmelo Greco, opened Germany’s Summer Cervena activity in early July. Guests included eight key food media and bloggers including Allgemeine Fleischer Zeitung, Chefs! Magazine and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Taylor says it was “great to see” that every journalist that attended the event wrote a piece about the programme.
This year’s programme also featured five high-end restaurants around Germany – two one Michelin star restaurants Stuttgart (Stuttgart) and Carmelo Greco (Frankfurt), Volt ( in Berlin), Kraftwerk (Oberursel Taunus) and Dr Kosch (Dusseldorf) – selected to offer a summer Cervena tasting menu for at least two weeks, Taylor explains. Each promoted their menu and Cervena through social media channels. An advertorial about the merits of Cervena appeared in several editions of Chefs! Magazine, which targets German chefs and foodservice.
In addition, as a result of work with key food bloggers, delicious recipes have started appearing on blogs such as Wunderbrunnen, Magentratzerl and Patricia Pötzsch’s uhiesig. The bloggers had been sent Cervena samples and were invited to create new and innovative summer recipes, he says.
Coverage from the German campaign, which includes magazine articles and blog posts about Cervena, is now being collated and evaluated, says Taylor.
As in the Benelux programme, the P2P campaign overlaid exporters’ more targeted tactical work in the market and followed up launch activity from Silver Fern Farms last year.
Silver Fern Farms aims to grow awareness and penetration of Cervena into its key customer segments throughout the summer season, explains group marketing manager Nicola Johnston.
The company works closely with in-market partners, HP Klughardt in Germany and Luiten Food in the Netherlands. The team’s marketing programme has been more intensive in 2018, building on last year’s sales growth, with a spectrum of marketing activities undertaken, including events, digital communications and sales support material updated in line with the new Cervena brand guidelines, she says.
In partnership with HP Klughardt, the exporter’s Cervena range was displayed in March at the trade show Internorga, an important forum to meet and do business with German foodservice customers. In-store tastings at Frische Paradies, a speciality retailer and supplier of fine foods, followed in April and were supported with a a new web-page for the retailer in May, which provided information about the product and the range of cuts.
The programme has also included cooking demonstrations, the development of a new Cervena web page, incorporating DINZ new video content, and public relations work with key opinion leaders and media.
This has resulted in Cervena being added to Ox & Klee restaurant menu in Cologne and a key opinion leader endorsement from German Michelin chef Daniel Gottslich. Advertorials in Gastronomie & Hotel Impulse Magazine have also prompted readers to try the dish at Ox & Klee and buy the meat from Frisch Paradies.
”Whilst German consumers are typically slow to change their habits, the P2P Summer season programme is starting to gain traction with a select group of cutting-edge chefs looking to differentiate their menus and meet the needs of an emerging segment of more adventurous and socially conscious German diners,” says Johnstone.
“Cervena offers that point of difference and it is hoped these early adopter chefs will prove excellent ambassadors for New Zealand pasture-raised venison by delivering innovative and memorable dining experiences.”
In the Netherlands, Silver Fern Farms also actively worked with partner Luiten Foods this summer season to promote Cervena at chef events hosted by premium foodservice wholesaler Sligro; in a summer menu promotion with luxury hotel chain Van der Valk; and through social media channels with influential social media bloggers Chicks Love Food.
A whole raft of activities were also underway in Belgium, with Alliance Group in its second year working with wholesaler Metro in the Summer Cervena programme.
“Getting chefs and diners to serve and order venison in summer takes time and consistent pressure through the wholesalers and butchers,” says Alliance venison marketing manager Katrina Allan. “However, after three years many chefs and restaurants are now familiar with Cervena.”
She is confident that continuing to persuade wholesalers to generate attention for Cervena at the beginning of the season will mean a large proportion of customers and restaurants will use it again on the menu next year.
Taylor says he thinks the combined programme went well: ”Particularly the activities in Germany which saw a good increase in volume. It was the first year we have had some well known chefs involved with the programme and we received a lot of great coverage from these activities. “
Social media has become a key promotional channel too with food bloggers in both Germany and the Netherlands positively engaging with the programme.
“I think we will continue to see more activity incorporating social media elements in the future.”
Taylor notes the companies all recognise this summer presented some challenges. With average temperatures rising above 25°C, consumers were eating less meat and more outside. In addition, the FIFA World Cup meant a complete focus on football for the three to four weeks of the competition with more associated foods such as burgers and sausages going onto the BBQ, rather than fine-dining.
“Creating a change in the consumer perception that venison can only be consumed during game season is a challenging thing to do and will take time,” he says.
“However, what is great is that all the companies remain positive about the programme and remain committed to supporting it next year.”
This article first appeared in Deer Industry News magazine (October/November 2018) and is reproduced here with permission. Check out the magazine (right) for more in-depth deer industry specific news.