Better venison prices are top DINZ priority

Jun 17, 2022

We couldn’t bring you to Wellington, so we’re bringing conference to you was the rationale for the 2022 DINZ Road Trip. Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Board and staff, and venison and velvet marketers have been meeting with deer farmers and other industry stakeholders in shortened versions of a conference in Palmerston North, Taupo, Winton, Wanaka, Geraldine and Oxford, writes DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat.

The DINZ Road Trip started in Palmerston North on 1 June. Events have also taken place in Taupō, Winton, Wanaka, Geraldine, and Oxford (pictured).

We have seen about 300 at the six events, where we’ve shaken it up a bit. Along with DINZ and marketers’ presentations, we also break into smaller groups to work together the key farm services that DINZ provides for industry. It’s important for us that we have the opportunity to discuss with our levy payers the priority areas we are addressing on your behalf.

Our top priority is to assist with the recovery in venison prices.

It is absolutely acknowledged that the venison price is not where it needs to be and everybody is working hard on encouraging more consumption and demand for New Zealand venison.

The second of six priorities for DINZ executive is creating market diversification, particularly in China.  

Venison companies continue to invest in the new markets which are growing and will need to be supported to provide longer-term sustainable and superior returns.

For velvet, we need to develop  a new market channel in China so we can recreate similar growth and demand in new product forms as  we’ve seen  in Korea. That way we expect demand will continue to keep ahead of production which is continuing to increase in New Zealand.”

Our third priority is working within the He Waka Eke Noa partnership.

Change is coming. We need to make sure that the system put in place recognises the requirements of extensive agriculture – deer farming in particular -- and also that there are things deer farmers can do to reduce and offset their emissions.

Other priorities include the Science 4 Success Research Co-innovation programme where farmers and processors are involved in research decisions; improvements to VelTrak; and the P2P and its successor projects.

Covid-19 disruption and constraints caused by environmental compliance are combining to affect production for the deer industry. This is affecting DINZ’s 2022-2023 budgets, now being drawn up, which assume a reduction in the venison levy and an increase in velvet production and consequent lift in income. We had built up some reserves because of higher than budgeted venison production over the past couple of years.

Graham Brown’s skills were to the fore again in the superb supper he prepared, including these delicious New Zealand smoked venison, blue cheese and chutney canapés.

In the future, we will see a closer balance between venison and velvet, with more farmers focusing on velvet than venison, which will need to be reflected in the activities that we do.

During the roadshow, we also updated participants on the venison and velvet markets. Two replacements stepped in at short notice to replace Covid-19 stricken DINZ executives Nick Taylor, venison marketing manager, and Rhys Griffiths, velvet markets manager. First Light Farm’s general manager venison Matt Gibson gave his perspective on venison markets, while DINZ board member and PGG Wrightson’s national deer and velvet manager Tony Cochrane covered the velvet market situation.

Participants then split up into three or four groups to rotate in 20-minute sessions to learn more about VelTrak from DINZ general manager quality assurance Rob Gregory, the Science 4 Success programme from AgResearch scientist Jamie Ward, while DINZ manager farm performance, Phil McKenzie engaged with the farmers on the environment, P2P and beyond.

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