Deer farmers eye Europe

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 15:09 06/07/2012

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Deer farmers, who are savouring stable venison prices as other farming commodities drop, are looking for the economies of northern Europe to remain strong at the height of the export season.

Now is the time of year exporters are finalising their chilled contracts for the European game season - ranging from this month to Christmas depending on the country - when venison is traditionally consumed.

Last year, venison made high prices and Deer Industry New Zealand is unsure if the same level will be reached for the 2012-13 season.

DINZ venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat said venison markets had so far maintained a level of stability reflected in the meat schedule prices deer producers were being paid.

"That gives our customers some certainty on what they will pay in the months to come.

"That certainty is in an era of financial turmoil and is very beneficial for the trade."

He said a softening of prices was possible for the wholesale trade in Europe, but the outlook was difficult to predict.

Moffat said Germany was under a burden to help its European Union partners recover from their economic troubles, but had coped well so far and New Zealand was fortunate to have a diversified customer base in northern Europe.

"You can't ignore it looks like Germany is entering a recession. There is some concerns about business confidence in places like the Netherlands and Belgium which have been relatively stable."

He said the deer industry recognised prices for other protein had fallen sharply.

However, venison was a niche product which shouldn't be buffeted by "unfavourable commodity trading" elsewhere.

Established customers and a strong seasonal demand for venison is expected to provide continued stability.

The meat schedule fell from $7.75 a kilogram after Christmas for an average 55kg-60kg stag to trough at an average $7.07/kg in April/ May, but has since climbed.

Venison prices are about 8 per cent down on last season's high values, but up 7 per cent to 9 per cent on the previous year.

Moffat said the post-May period had unfortunately coincided with an appreciating dollar against the euro to remove gains. The dollar was up 9 per cent on last year's rate.

"I couldn't tell you what the prices in the wholesale market would be in September and October let alone what the euro will be in a week or a few months. We are not expecting any great change in the wholesale price, but I don't know where they are going to be."

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The meat schedule for the first week of July was at $7.34/kg compared to a five- year average for the same week of $7.77/kg and $4.27/kg for the five years before that.

Chilled venison by sea freight is expected to begin from mid-July with frozen exports running year round.

New Zealand is pushing less venison into North America due to the strong kiwi dollar, but there are signs the upper end of the restaurant trade is recovering from the 2008 financial crisis.

PRICE SNAPSHOT

Average venison price for the first week of July.

* $7.34/kg in 2012-13

* $8.17/kg for 2011-12

* $6.93/kg for 2010-11

* $8.75/kg for 2009-10

* $7.68/kg for 2008-09.

FIVE YEAR AVERAGE:* $7.77/kg

PREVIOUS FIVE YEAR AVERAGE:* $4.27/kg

- © Fairfax NZ News

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