DINZ board quizzed on stakeholders, herd numbers and Cervena®

May 24, 2024

Questioning of the DINZ board, after talks from each in their specific areas, showed farmer concern falling in three areas: stakeholders; herd numbers and Cervena.

MC Dave Todd introduces the DINZ board session. Present were (left to right): Mandy Bell, Gerard Hickey, Hamish Fraser, Paddy Boyd, Camille Flack, Dave Courtney and Tony Cochrane.

DINZ’s role is to lead, show direction and promote the product, vice-chair Gerard Hickey explained.

But, after all the change, it's important that the Board “takes stakeholders with you,” commented deer breeder Grant Charteris.

Both DINZ and NZDFA “hear it,” replied Paddy Boyd. The board is getting around the table with the NZDFA more regularly, he told delegates, and has “made ourselves available for farmers to talk to, but it’s critical that information goes back down through NZDFA channels,” he said.

The DINZ board was also questioned on their thoughts around lower herd numbers.

“That’s coming out of the females that have been killed rather than retained,” John Somerville noted.

Hind retention for herd rebuilding is also expected to impact further on numbers ahead. Recent data from Statistics NZ for the production year ending June 2023 show the decrease in deer numbers since 2017 is 11.2 percent, noting a 9.9 percent reduction for dairy cattle, an increase of 1.1 percent for beef cattle and 11.5 percent drop for sheep over the same period, Mandy Bell noted, adding the DINZ board is “very aware” of the situation.

Paddy Boyd, whose DINZ board responsibilities span the National Velvet Standards Body (NVSB) and NZDFA connections.

This had been taken into account in the recent strategic and restructuring activity. “We’ve made some strong, focused decisions.” The changes, Bell felt, “will hold us in good stead.”

Setting up smaller marketing niches, or ‘value chains’, and being more nimble and targeted will be essential, said Hickey. “It will return more than the schedule,” in the long-run.

NZDFA is also “very focused on getting deer back behind fences,” said new NZDFA executive committee chair Mark McCoard when summarising the day. “Diversity is key.”

South Island deer farmer Donald Whyte questioned DINZ board members about what is replacing the industry-developed Cervena appellation for top-quality venison for chefs.

The DINZ board’s position, “is that it’s still open to everyone to use,” clarified Hickey.

“Duncan NZ and Mountain River Venison have chosen to specialise and are licensed to use Cervena for their foodservice customers,” explained Andy Duncan, Duncan NZ’s executive chair.

“It started life as an industry appellation, effectively like a quality mark.  There’s great awareness of it, particularly in the US which was the main market where it was launched. We still see value in it and our marketing efforts continue to focus around that quality promise.”

However, Silver Fern Farms, Alliance and First Light have decided to concentrate on their own venison brands in-market and in different sectors.

Speaking for Silver Fern Farms, Dave Courtney said this was because of the additional franchisee cost, brand confusion on the packaging and the company’s own marketing research that found ‘venison’ resonated better with its particular target groups of consumers. “But if other processors still saw value in it, that’s great, and they should still be able to use it,” he said.


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