Planning for every scenario for frozen velvet access to China

Feb 16, 2024

New Zealand’s deer velvet exports to China increased by around $20 million in December as importers and exporters worked to deal with the changes to China’s import regulations for frozen velvet.

Six Chinese chefs on the recent Ends of the Earth culinary adventure in New Zealand learned more about New Zealand velvet quality from Fairlight Station manager Simon Wright.

According to Statistics NZ’s latest data, the FOB value of deer velvet exported to all markets rose from $96 million in the year ending December 2022 to $124 million in December 2023, DINZ manager markets Rhys Griffiths has observed. “$28 million more than the previous year.”

Most of this can be attributed to velvet exports to China in December 2023, a month when exports tripled, “almost $20 million more velvet was exported to China, than the previous year.”

It’s a sign, he thinks, of the “pull coming from China” and the “assertive buying of importers trying to conclude deals prior to the Tuesday 30 April deadline [for this season’s velvet production to be cleared into China], because it takes at least a month for shipping and then you have a few weeks in bond, devanning and so on.”

Exporters have reported, “many Korean buyers have been holding out this season,” he says. This has been confirmed in the statistics which show velvet exports to the Republic of Korea halved that month to $1 million FOB.

Planning for every scenario for frozen velvet access to China

DINZ and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials are still working with Chinese counterparts to agree clear guidelines for importing frozen New Zealand deer velvet into China.

Dried New Zealand velvet still has full access for the China TCM market. Velvet stags are waiting to hear about frozen access after 1 May 2024. Photo: Grant Charteris.

To recap - In mid-November, Chinese officials notified MPI of changes to China’s rules for imported frozen velvet used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  From 1 May 2024, only dried velvet can be imported into China, from any source, for use as a traditional Chinese medicine. No frozen velvet from any source will be able to be imported for TCM use after that date, until the new conditions are agreed.

At this stage, no change is being made to the Regulatory Control Scheme (RCS), nor to New Zealand’s velvet traceability requirements.

While no timeline has been set, MPI is treating the issue as high priority, it has reassured DINZ.

MPI is aware of the importance of having rules in place for the beginning of the 2023-2024 season, but a complex regulatory pathway involving several different agencies in China needs to be negotiated, explains DINZ chief executive Innes Moffat.

The Deer Velvet Access Group (DVAG), a subcommittee of the DINZ board, is working on the issue. DINZ has appointed a well-qualified project manager with expertise in the market, Damon Paling, to provide extra resource to assist with managing this issue.

The DVAG met on 9 February 2024 to undertake scenario planning concerning future access for deer velvet, Paling reports. The workshop aimed to explore various scenarios that commercial operators may face, including best and worst cases, and to identify priority actions to move forward.“Participants discussed factors such as risk tolerance, market conditions and long-term objectives when determining strategic positions,” he explains. “This included considerations commercial operators may wish to take around safeguarding existing assets, minimising exposure to market fluctuations and managing capital outlay amidst uncertain demand and prices.”

The workshop also explored potential untapped considerations and opportunities for commercial operators, leading to the identification of priority actions to be undertaken. Post-workshop actions include a summary presentation to the DINZ board and development of a 90-day action plan.

DINZ is working on the situation and remains committed to keeping industry informed as developments unfold, says Moffat.

“We will continue to engage with stakeholders, both domestically and internationally, to address challenges and seize opportunities in the evolving landscape of velvet exports to China.”

Moffat reiterates his belief that the updated rules will mean,  “long-term, New Zealand will have clearer, better and more secure access into China for both frozen and dried velvet.”

Further information: ‘Supply chain adjustments for frozen velvet exports to China’ >>

Contact Innes Moffat/Mandy Bell at DINZ for more information on 04-473 4500, or email,


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