More Bang for their Buck

More Bang for their Buck

Venison prices are at their highest level since 2011 and demand for New Zealand produce is huge, but deer numbers are at their lowest level in 26 years. Is now the time to invest in a deer farm?

One glance at the menus of Europe’s top restaurants shows just how big the appetite is for New Zealand venison. Chefs can’t get enough of it. Daring dishes using the rich dark meat appeal to both young and old diners.

Sales in New Zealand’s fifth biggest venison export market are up 400 percent on last year, with analysts calling it the one to watch.

Britain currently sources about 1,200 tonnes of venison from New Zealand, Poland, Spain and Northern Ireland, but, according to John Fletcher, who chairs the British Deer Farms and Parks Association, “all those supplies are declining”. In New Zealand, meat processors are paying top dollar – up to $9.80 a kilogram – to secure venison for European customers.

The reason for the rapid rise in prices and supply shortage is the fact deer farmers are holding onto their breeding hinds in order to rebuild their herds, which have almost halved in number over the past decade.

The last time the venison industry experienced a boom, in 2011, a bust soon followed, as prices rose more than buyers were prepared to pay. As the slump took effect, deer farmers converted to dairy and sheep. Now, weaknesses in the dairy and sheep markets and an overall pick-up in the economies of the US and Europe have renewed interest in the deer industry.


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