US now top market for NZ chilled venison
The United States has toppled Germany as the go-to market for New Zealand chilled-venison exports.
Deer farmers should be in good spirits, as venison prices are slightly ahead of last year's and until lately exports to the US were sluggish as the global financial crisis continued to dent sales.
Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat said a strong economic recovery in the US had encouraged more chilled venison sales.
"There has been a big increase in chilled venison cuts to the US in the last year compared to the year before. The US is now New Zealand's largest market for chilled venison and over the last year it has overtaken Germany."
Higher prices for beef and other meat alternatives in North America had helped boost venison sales.
Meat companies were "engaged" with customers to drive good sales activity in the food service sector, he said.
Most of the chilled venison was being directed to the restaurant trade, where it appeared US diners hurting from the global financial crisis were moving away from burger joints to better restaurants.
Chilled venison was mostly continuing to bypass retail sites but restaurant trading was encouraging, Moffat said.
"Total volumes in the US are now 2300 tonnes, which is the highest they have ever been. That's a mixture of about 50 per cent table cuts for the restaurant trade and 50 per cent manufactured trade for grinding."
Moffat said chilled venison prices had lifted slightly due to solid orders from customers in Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.