News that processors are likely to be paying more for deer
this spring was welcomed by deer farmers at their annual
conference in Methven a fortnight ago.
Silver Fern Farms, one of the two biggest venison exporters,
announced its spring chilled contract prices on the third day
of the conference.
National deer manager Malcolm Gourlie said farmers who
entered a contract this spring would be able to lock in a
minimum price similar to last year's fixed contract prices.
However, this season there was the potential to earn up to 50
cents a kilogram above this, if market conditions and the
exchange rate allowed.
Firstlight Foods, a smaller exporter that operates in new
markets, also confirmed that its 2014 base price for
year-round supply was more than 50c a kilo higher than for
Deer Farmers Association chairman Kris Orange said this was
news that many farmers wanted to hear.
''These are benchmarks around which other exporters are
likely to cluster.''
He said the consensus of farmers at the conference was that
the farm gate venison price needed to be $2 a kg more than
lamb, to make venison farming competitive.
At present, the margin in favour of venison is only a matter
of cents per kilo - the lowest it has been in many years.
''While the contract prices on offer don't promise what we
want, they are a step in the right direction and a signal of
market confidence that farmers have been looking for,'' Mr
Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup
told farmers there was a pretty consistent view among
marketers that traditional European markets were improving
and farmers had probably seen the bottom of the price curve.
The supply pipeline was now empty and no stocks were
overhanging the market.
Mr Coup said the deer industry had been trying for many years
to break free from its reliance on the traditional game-meat
commodity trade in Europe.
The future lay in creating a brand for the New Zealand
product that would attract a premium price and year-round
''It will also require farmers to commit their animals to
that branded marketing programme, regardless of what happens
in the commodity trade.''
Already some exporters are making good progress in niche
markets. Conference goers heard that Mountain River Venison
had created a premium brand in Sweden.
In the Netherlands, Firstlight Foods and Silver Fern Farms
are working with a major food service company to build
year-round demand for chilled product branded as New Zealand
farm-raised venison rather than game.
But the big hope lies in the proposed launch of the premium
Cervena brand in Europe and potentially China, driven by the
five largest venison exporters.