The export market for specialist meat cuts from Australasia
is ''as tough as I have ever seen it'', Clover Exports
managing director Mike Eathorne says.
Clover's Gore plant is the only one in New Zealand licensed
to kill horses for human consumption. All the meat is
exported and sold in Europe, through Clover's owner,
Australian-based Meramist Pty and its Belgian parent company
The plant processes about 17,000 deer annually, including elk
Mr Eathorne, who is based in Brisbane, said last week global
financial issues, including New Zealand's high-value dollar,
were making it harder to sell New Zealand venison in Europe.
Most was sold to restaurants as gourmet cuts, but tough
economic conditions meant chefs were buying differently, he
''People are still eating [in restaurants], but the chefs are
altering what they cook. They are doing things with cheaper
cuts ... such as beef cheeks and lambs' brains.''
The export situation was the same in Australia, he said.
''If you think it's bad in New Zealand, it's worse on this
side of the Tasman.''
The tougher sales market in Europe was already being
reflected in the prices meat processors were paying farmers,
Mr Eathorne said. He estimated Clover's venison schedules
were back about $2 a kg on this time last year.
''The procurement prices we pay have to reflect market
conditions ... We are now selling products at similar prices
to 10 years ago. Our margins - and farmers' margins - are
However, Mr Eathorne said the future of the Gore plant was
secure and there were no plans to close it.
''We're long-term players. We've been there about 20
years and we are going to be there for many years to come.''