DINZ news in brief February 2021

DINZ news in brief February 2021

Friday, February 12, 2021

Total venison exports up in 2020: With mass Covid vaccination programmes underway, DINZ venison marketing manager Nick Taylor expects dining restrictions will ease across major markets in time for this year’s chilled season. He says that while the market for frozen venison is still subdued, marketers are getting a few useful enquiries for supply later this year.

Taylor points out that the 2020 chilled season progressed well until a new round of lock-downs was imposed in December. Surveys also show that eating out is one of the things that consumers miss the most during a lockdown.

Stats for the 2020 calendar year reflect the impact of Covid on the hospitality sector. Average venison prices fell by about 17 percent as marketers moved product to channels and markets that would not normally be able to compete with food service for supply. This reduced the build-up of inventory in New Zealand and provided the cash flow to pay farmers for their deer.

Restaurant closures and a near-absence of tourists, especially in Europe and North America, are continuing to put a damper on returns to farmers. But on the positive side, lower prices have been a lubricant for sales, with venison exports in the 2020 calendar year up 3.3 percent on 2019, from 11,404 tonnes to11,781 tonnes.

Photo caption: A Covid registration form (gästeregistrierung) in a German restaurant

Velvet season behaved as expected: The 2020/21 velvet season saw farm gate returns back 15-20 per cent on the previous season – but nearly all production had found a market before Christmas. Also, very importantly, given the Covid crisis, farmers were paid for their product.

DINZ markets manager Rhys Griffiths says it was predicted before the season opened that consumer demand for velvet would be strong, but that prices to farmers would reflect buyer concerns about potential supply chain issues.

“Buyer caution turned out to be well-founded. There is continuing disruption as a result of a new Covid lockdown at Dalian, the only port in China that handles velvet. Importers have paid for their velvet but it has been stuck on the wharf or on ships, incurring charges. It has been really difficult for them.

“Buyers who have purchased velvet are now asking our exporters to hold their velvet in NZ cool stores until the backlog clears.”

Meanwhile, for the record, velvet exports for the 2020 calendar year reached $NZ73 million, a 30% increase on 2019. The calendar year figures are not very meaningful, because of the timing of the velvet season. However it is interesting to note that the average export price last year was $97.65 a kg, up from $83 a kg in 2019.

Hawke’s Bay environmental awards field day next week: Central Hawke’s Bay deer farmers Linda and Evan Potter are celebrating not one, but two significant environmental awards at their property, Waipapa, on Wednesday next week. Deer farmers are invited to join them and have a first-hand look at the great work the Potters have done.

The Potters (pictured) won the East Coast Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award in 2020, preceded by the 2019 Supreme Elworthy award in the biennial deer farmers’ environment awards. The couple say a “fantastic” working relationship with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and its land management officers has helped energise their environmental work.

The spectacular bush-clad gully carved by the Hawea stream that snakes through the property has been set aside in a QEII covenant currently totalling 125 hectares. This is the most visible aspect of a comprehensive programme that started with a soil conservation plan formulated soon after the Potters bought the property. In more recent times they’ve completed a farm environment plan and have an ongoing planting programme with poplars, willows and native trees.

The farm is about 35% deer, 23% cattle and 42% sheep, with just under 5000 stock units in total. The deer side is based on about 230 velvet stags, with replacements bred from a herd of 200 hinds.

The field day runs from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm, Weds 17 February, at 658 St Lawrence Road, Elsthorpe.  

More >>

New channel development continues: Venison companies are treating the current hospitality downturn as an opportunity to develop new products and sales channels that will outlive Covid. There is also a continuing focus on developing cuts for China where Covid restrictions in many regions have been eased, enabling restaurants to reopen.

“The focus in western markets is on creating demand from home cooks for cuts, particularly from the shoulder and leg, which have traditionally been sold frozen as undifferentiated game meat. That’s where the big opportunity lies to add value both now and in the long-term,” says DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat.

“Some of the companies are saying that their on-line and supermarket sales are going a lot better than they expected. We’ll report later on the outcomes of initiatives now being rolled out in the USA.”

Buyers now ordering VelTrak scanners: Although the 2021/22 velvetting season is several months away, DINZ is now co-ordinating orders for velvet buyers and packhouses for the Zebra brand UHF RFID scanners that will play a key role in VelTrak. Early ordering is needed so DINZ can negotiate a bulk price for the scanners and get them delivered in time.

VelTrak is the new electronic track-and-trace system for deer velvet. It will be introduced from the start of the 2021/22 velvetting season. Only buyers and warehouses will need to buy a scanner.

Next on the rollout plan for VelTrak will be deer vets, who will be invited to participate in webinars to be held in the few weeks. Invitations will be sent directly using the NVSB contact database. Like farmers, vets will not need to buy a scanner.

Before the start of the 2021/22 velvetting season, all farms, vet clinics and businesses involved in velvet removal, procurement, warehousing, processing and packing for shipment will need to register with VelTrak.  

If your deer farm, clinic or business is known to DINZ and you are designated as the main DINZ contact, registration instructions will be automatically emailed to you. We will let you know in plenty of time for you to register. Please don’t try and register before the opening dates below.

Registration opens:
Deer vets: 6 April 2021
Farmers: 3 May 2021
Buyers & packhouses: 1 August 2021

More? Go to www.deernz.org/VelTrak

If you are a velvet buyer and have not discussed your needs for a scanner with DINZ please contact Rhys Griffiths, tel 04 471 6112, or the company for whom you buy velvet.

VelTrak gets a colourful endorsement: Dr Gyong Jai Lee is a household name in South Korea – a celebrity oriental medicine doctor who stars on television entertainment and health-themed shows.

He has his own medical clinic and markets oriental medicine products on-line. Dr Lee also endorses some third-party health food products and oriental medicines based on NZ velvet.

When DINZ’s representatives in Korea told him about VelTrak, not only was he excited about the concept, he was happy to endorse it publicly. Dr Lee is very familiar with the NZ deer velvet industry, having made several visits here to see deer farms and velvet processing plants. On his visits to New Zealand he brings a film crew to shoot footage at farms for his own show.

This passionate supporter of NZ velvet is looking forward to his next visit here.

Industry conference in Invercargill in May 2021: After going virtual last year because of Covid, the Deer Industry Conference is returning this year in the flesh. It will be held in Invercargill on 18 & 19 May, followed by ‘P2P in Action’ -- a national technical workshop – on 20 May.

Keynote speakers include Kaila Colbin (a futurist and founder of Global Boma), Lance Burdett (WARN International, a consultant and coach) and Dr Jacqueline Rowarth (BAgSci Hons.PhD OMNZ. Specialist in soil science and environmental agriculture).

More details will be released as they come available. Check deernz.org/2021-deer-industry-conference for the latest. For programme or speaker enquiries, please contact tony.pearse@deernz.org or 021 719 038. For sponsorship, registration or general enquiries, please contact organiser Melissa Bahler on positiveeventsplus@xtra.co.nz or 027 664 3080.

The venue will be the first-class facilities of the Bill Richardson Transport World, with access for delegates to amazing truck and car collections.  

Help us showcase the deer industry: DINZ environmental policy manager Lindsay Fung strongly encourages deer farmers who are proud of the environmental work they have done on their farms to to enter the 2021 Deer Industry Environmental Awards. Entries close at 4 pm on Wednesday 31 March.

“Deer farmers are known for taking pride in their animals and environment. This year more than ever your participation in the awards will demonstrate the industry’s ongoing commitment to sustainable farming and high-quality food production,” he says.

“The awards were conceived by Sir Peter and Fiona, Lady Elworthy 20 years ago and are typically held every two years. Recipients have spanned the full range of deer farm systems – from high country stations to intensive finishing farms – and geographic spread, from Southland to Waikato.”

This year alongside the long-standing and loyal award sponsors from previous years, a Korean company has been confirmed as a new award sponsor. Fung says this is a strong indication of how our overseas customers view the industry’s commitment to environmental management.

For application forms and competition information >>

Amy Watts, new DINZ board observer: Central Otago large animal vet Amy Watts has been appointed as an observer on the DINZ board. This 12-month role was created last year for someone with an interest in taking a leadership role in the deer industry. Watt replaces the previous observer, Rob Kidd of Duncan NZ.

The observer is helped with their personal and professional development and is given the opportunity to attend training at the Institute of Directors at DINZ expense. They are expected to fully participate in DINZ board discussions.

DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat said the position attracted healthy interest from people actively involved across the deer value chain. The successful candidate was selected by a committee made up of a DINZ board member and two from the NZDFA Selection and Appointment Panel

“Amy is a very active deer vet, she is president of the New Zealand Veterinary Association's Deer Branch, was previously a member of the P2P deer health group and has recently been attending meetings of the National Velvet Standards Body.”

Science and policy manager wanted: DINZ is seeking a new science and policy manager following the resignation of Catharine Sayer. The role involves policy development and review, as well the management of the DINZ research portfolio. Contact innes.moffat@deernz.org for a copy of the job description. 

Until the position is filled, technical and policy matters are being handled by chef executive Innes Moffat.