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A good spring, with plenty of pasture growth, meant the antler harvest this year began about two weeks earlier than in past years.
Deer Industry NZ Asia markets manager Rhys Griffiths said buying activity began strongly in late October, with prices for the traditional Korean styles fully firm on last season's close.
''Since then we have seen some adjustment in price relativities between grades, but exporters have done a great job of holding the line. Overall prices to farmers are still very strong.''
PGG Wrightson velvet manager Tony Cochrane said there was good demand for the Chinese styles - the spiker and regrowth - that were now starting to come forward, with prices up on last season's close.
CK Exports managing director Colin Stevenson said it had been a good season so far, with increased volumes coming in from farmers, being sold, paid for and shipped.
''We are holding no stocks in store and are enjoying strong demand at good prices from a wide spread of buyers.''
Close to 90% of the velvet cut by November 20 had been Super A grade, a percentage that has been increasing year by year.
This suited the processing systems used by healthy food manufacturers in Korea, well suited to the traditional Oriental medicine trade which is based on the sale of sliced velvet.
Smaller B-grade sticks are better suited to the traditional Oriental medicine trade since they hold their shape and structure when sliced.
Mr Griffiths said at the start of each season there was always some apprehension among buyers and sellers as they tried to agree on a price level. Both wanted to ensure the level struck was fair and likely to be sustainable across the season.
''But despite this, the reality is that overall velvet prices have been strong for nearly a decade now. That reflects the determination of the main sellers to get the best possible prices for their farmer suppliers.
''They have the confidence to do this because they know there's a steady stream of new customers - healthy food product manufacturers - visiting New Zealand to see the industry for themselves and to secure supply.
''Some of them come with their marketing people and camera crews to get photos and video of deer in our fabulous landscape. Healthy food products based on velvet and its New Zealand provenance are very trendy in Korea at present. We are all hoping that it's a trend that stays around for a very long time.''