Firm demand from Europe and a more favourable exchange rate mean venison producers can expect prices during the spring peak and through into 2016 to be higher than last year.
Since peaking at 72c Euro in May, the Kiwi dollar is now tracking at around 60c Euro, about 10 percent below this time last year. Prices to farmers are moving in the opposite direction – upward – with the average venison schedule standing at $6.83 on 20 July, 10 per cent ahead of July 2014.
“Prices for prime venison typically peak each spring, to cater for demand in the traditional European game season,” says Deer Industry NZ venison manager Innes Moffat.
“It looks like things are heading in the right direction. Prices for middles in Europe are up a little on last year, which we hope will assist in lifting demand for leg cuts.
“Growing market diversification is also a positive trend. North America is now our largest year-round chilled market, as well as a growing market for manufacturing cuts. United Kingdom exports recently reached the highest ever total of 1,400 tonnes a year, boosted by strong retail demand.”
Peter Robinson, venison global product manager for Silver Fern Farms, the country’s largest venison exporter, says forward sales into Europe for the chilled season were slower to build this year, but are now at positive levels.
“There was doubt about the availability of animals. As it turned out, we closed our spring contracts with our farmer suppliers a week ago, well subscribed, with similar volumes at slightly better prices than last year.”
He says the peak in shipments runs from the last week in September to near the end of October. During this period the company’s larger customers are typically looking for weekly deliveries.
“The run-up to the main season – August and early September – is always at lower levels, with demand typically at half the volumes achieved in October. Every market behaves differently and can be influenced by traditional patterns of game consumption.
“Switzerland helps in that respect. They tend to promote the game season earlier than Germany and other European markets. We have a couple of contracts for Switzerland that are filling now.”
He says the company is constantly matching customers with farmer supply, as well as trying to find premium markets for every part of the carcase. Schedule pricing will reflect the mix of chilled and frozen market demand through this period.
“We lock in as much as we can with farmer supply contracts, because it provides certainty for everyone. But it leaves the one big variable that farmers have to deal with, growing animals to reach target weights in the face of everything the weather throws at them.”