US demand drives record venison prices

Soaring demand from the United States for reduced supply is behind an unprecedented lift in venison schedule prices beyond the traditional peak, says Mountain River Venison's marketing director John Sadler.

"We have the extraordinary situation where schedule prices have gone up in November," he told a deer industry P2P field day in Canterbury.

Traditionally venison schedules peak in September and October for chilled product to meet the European game season market. However, this year schedules have remained above $10 a kilogram.

"Everybody has been asking what is happening," said Sadler, who has been responsible for marketing venison for the privately-owned Mountain River since its inception 23 years ago.

Growth in sales to the US had accelerated, a trend that had been occurring for the last three to four years. Up to 2010, the share of New Zealand exports to the US was steady at 5 to 7 per cent. From 2011, it started rising about 10 per cent a year, growing to nearly 26 per cent of sales this year. "So the US market has become significant and is a reasonable contributor to the current schedule." As a result, sales to Europe had fallen as venison exporters struggled to supply long-term relationships.

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