Deer industry directors take to the road

Innes Moffat
Innes Moffat
Deer Industry New Zealand replaced its usual national conference this year with its board and executive going on a regional ‘‘road trip’’. Reporter Shawn McAvinue asks Deer Industry New Zealand chief executive Innes Moffat five questions about the road trip.

Q: Why did you replace the conference with a road trip?

The conference was to be in Wellington at the start of last month. In February, we decided to cancel our conference because of Covid uncertainty.

As Covid restrictions diminished, we wanted to get out and see our farmers and report on what the industry does and allow them to question us on what we are doing.

Q: Where are the stops on the road trip and how many people are on the tour? Are you all travelling in a VW Kombi similar to the one featuring in advertising to promote the events?

Before heading South we stopped in Palmerston North, Taupo, Geraldine and Oxford. On the tour we are rotating the directors and we will have up to five directors and up to six staff at each event. Right now I’m looking at a Toyota Hiace — which is not quite as cool as a Kombi.

Q: How are the venison and velvet markets performing?

We are seeing a strong recovery in venison markets. Sales of venison were significantly affected by restaurant closures and continued disruptions, caused by Covid. It has required a pivot and to establish new markets for venison, particularly retail in the United States and food service in China. Those markets are really beginning to respond well to the offer of New Zealand venison. We are seeing some significant growth in sales in those two new markets.

The traditional use of velvet in South Korea is to boost the immune system and velvet had a reasonably good Covid. Demand for natural remedies has been very strong through the traditional Chinese medicine market and as a more modern over-the-counter health food product. We have seen strong prices for velvet in the 2021-22 season. We have had an increase in velvet production and an increase in sales and prices in the Republic of Korea and Mainland China.

Q: A topic being discussed on the road trip is farmers being required to know their greenhouse gas number by the end of this year, in preparation for agriculture having an emissions pricing regime in place by 2025. How confident are you deer farmers will be able to calculate their own number before the deadline?

We are working hard with all the deer farmers to help them know their number. At the moment we are running about 10 ‘‘Know Your Number’’ workshops across the main deer farming areas of New Zealand. At the end of last year, we estimated about 60% of deer farmers knew their number. We will continue to work with all the farmers and other agencies, such as meat companies, to help farmers get to know their numbers. It’s just the first step in regards to carbon accounting but it’s an important one.

Q: Chef Graham Brown is demonstrating venison cooking ideas at the Winton and Wanaka events. What is your go-to recipe when cooking venison?

I like the venison medallions you can buy in the supermarket. I’ll sear them and then slice them thinly and then put them in a soft taco with a corn salsa, a mild spicy sauce and a bit of coleslaw for a bit of crunch. A little bit of venison goes a long way.


  • The road trip has two stops in the South — in Winton this afternoon and Wanaka tomorrow afternoon.





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