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8 February 2024
Over the Farm Gate
Market Commentary

Deer prospects positive

Strong stag sale season responds to encouraging market signals for venison and velvet. 

Conditions for New Zealand deer farmers remain generally positive.

Through the now completed stag sale season quality stock went for high prices. A couple of three-year old velvet stags sold for more than $100,000, while a three-year old trophy stag fetched $114,000. 

An increasing North American appetite for bigger venison cuts gave rise to positive results at elk and wapiti sales. While the standard schedule for venison is $9, higher value contracts have been reported and elk and wapiti breeders are recording good sales for their bulls, with strong clearances and record prices.

Traditionally the venison price schedule peaks for about two months during spring, coinciding with Europe’s game season. For the North American market, where there is no game season, New Zealand meat companies are meeting demand by offering a premium for elk meat running six months or longer. Demand for elk meat has been growing in North America for the past year, which is transforming the industry in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, despite sitting up to 10 per cent below where it was last year, the velvet price is stable, and still relatively profitable compared to other livestock returns. Farmers have lifted both production and quality, which is paying dividends.

China announced late last year that imported velvet must be dried before it can be classified as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Frozen velvet is therefore not classified as a TCM in China. While this decision is challenging for the industry in the short term, there are potential longer term benefits and government officials are in positive discussions regarding a classification and pathway. South Korea remains the main consumption market for New Zealand velvet, however China has significant growth and large processing capabilities. All farmer suppliers are reminded to have velvet off farm without delay to allow for export shipping.

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