Cervena summer trial in Germany

Cervena venison will be marketed in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial.

While relatively small, the trial was ''symbolically very important'', Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson said.

Traditionally, the deer industry had been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade, which was highly seasonal. Demand and prices peak in the northern autumn and winter.

''Marketing Cervena venison there as a lighter summer eating option, suitable for grilling, is a challenge but it's a journey we want to begin. Chefs across Europe are now showing more interest in innovative summer menu items, so the timing is positive,'' she said.

Cervena comes from grass-fed farmed deer under 3 years of age. In recent years, sales to North America had grown steadily, to the point where the United States was now New Zealand's largest year-round market for chilled venison.

The challenge now was to replicate that success in Europe during the summer, when game meat demand was at its lowest, Ms Wilson said.

Initially, only Silver Fern Farms would be offering Cervena for sale in the 2017 German trial.

It would be marketed from April to July, well separated from cuts marketed as ''New Zealand venison'', sold in the traditional game season, from September to December.

Alliance Group would develop a food service channel for Cervena in Germany this year, with the aim of launching in 2018.

The trial came at a time when venison demand across all markets was strong and supply was short, she said.

''The industry is going through a herd rebuilding phase at present and when venison production inevitably increases, we want to have more year-round markets offering premium prices primed and ready to go.''

ANZ's latest Agri-Focus report said immediate prospects for venison prices appeared positive.

US demand for both table cuts for the restaurant trade, and trim and manufacturing items for ingredients in the burger trade and further processed food items continued to increase.

Demand in the traditional European markets was strong, as inventory levels were lower than in recent years.

Combined with New Zealand venison production remaining tight due to lower weaner numbers coming into 2016-17, and the retention of breeding stock to rebuild herds, farm-gate prices should remain firm and well above the same time last year, the report said.

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