Venison marketing companies were working together to design
an extended Cervena marketing programme. Photo by Stephen
After joining Deer Industry New Zealand eight months ago
as its new chief executive, Dan Coup learnt ''pretty quickly''
that confidence among producers was generally at a low ebb.
He arrived at a time when farmers were frustrated at the
state of profitability, particularly in venison, and were
determined that things needed to change.
Addressing the deer industry conference in Methven this week,
Mr Coup said that was well understood by Deer Industry New
Zealand (Dinz) which was taking up the challenge.
But while Dinz could contribute to change, it did not grow,
buy or sell venison. It could contribute ''by leading, by
encouraging, by facilitating and by directing a little bit of
your money'', he told farmers.
The industry's Passion2Profit programme spanned the venison
value-chain, from consumer to farmer. The strategy was about
creating more value and there were opportunities to do that
right across the value chain, he said.
It involved ''substantial'' projects on both the
marketing and farming sides. With marketing, the programme was
centred on extending the use of Cervena. The five largest
venison marketing companies were working together to design an
extended Cervena marketing programme, beyond the current
programme in North America and Australasia.
The work was not complete and it was not yet agreed but the
companies were contemplating a new launch of Cervena. It
would be a stand-alone brand that could be produced by all of
the participating processors. Initially, it would target one
or two small markets in Europe or China and it would be a
premium, year-round protein supplied exclusively to high-end
''This proposition is attractive because it holds the
potential for us to pool our resources and throw the
industry's full weight behind a strong brand - it gives us
the greatest prospect of creating premium value for our
venison,'' Mr Coup said.
The technology was available to produce deer much heavier and
much earlier than done on average now, and to produce
profitably while meeting the highest animal welfare and
But he was concerned that technological know-how did not
''jump easily'' from laboratories and researchers into the
farming community and that was what the on-farm component of
Passion2Profit was all about.
''We need to do much better in the way that we deliver
research learning to farmers and make it something that is
applicable to individual circumstances,'' he said.
The full programme would not be possible without additional
funding and it was the subject of an application to the
Primary Growth Partnership for partnership funding from
government. Dinz was grappling with a range of challenges and
opportunities. In the advocacy space, the biggest issue of
importance was water quality regulation, Mr Coup said.
Market access continued to be a struggle, particularly in
China, but there seemed to be ''some light at the end of that
A push to get New Zealand venison recognised in Europe as a
year-round menu item has begun.
Hanos, the largest food service distributor in the
Netherlands, has begun a two-month promotion that aims to
separate New Zealand venison from a European tradition that
dictated how and when game meats might be eaten.
At the direction of the company's head game buyer, Ben
Veldcamp, it has been renamed and presented in new
barbecue-ready cuts. Dinz was giving Hanos promotional
support and exporters were working with the company to assure
them of year-round supply, Mr Coup said.
Firstlight Venison director Gerard Hickey said encouraging
discussions had been held with Hanos over the years but the
trigger was disruption to the supply of ostrich and antelope
from South Africa because of exotic disease outbreaks.
Mr Coup said the European game meat market had become much
more competitive in the past few years.
Silver Fern Farms, as well as Firstlight Foods, supplied
Hanos. Other exporters were also being encouraged by Hanos to
supply their Dutch customers with similar cuts in order to
build a critical mass of demand.
If it proved to be a ''game-changer'' in Holland, it would
make it easier to convince customers elsewhere in Europe to
embrace a similar strategy, he said.