Meat & Livestock News

Venison Market Shows Resilience Amid Challenges


  • The venison market has seen improvement despite a decrease in deer numbers and challenges during the pandemic.
  • Venison prices are stable, with expectations for 2024 to mirror last year’s performance, despite a slight decrease in seasonal prices.
  • Diversification in markets and strong demand from North America and China highlight the sector’s recovery and potential for growth.

In a year marked by logistical challenges and shifting consumer preferences, the venison sector has demonstrated notable resilience, ending 2023 on a positive note despite a subdued start. The sector faced a reduction in deer numbers, attributed to the pandemic’s impact on supply chains and a shift towards more accessible proteins.

This led to a decrease in demand and pricing, prompting some farmers to reconsider their commitment to deer farming. The industry saw a reduction of at least 20,000 breeding hinds from the previous year, continuing a trend of declining supply.

However, venison has emerged from the pandemic in a stronger position compared to other red meats, with slaughter pricing significantly outperforming lamb by almost $3/kg. Processors are currently offering around $8.70/kgCW, excluding premiums, with prices expected to remain stable into 2024. This stability is partly due to decreased deer numbers and a strategic shift towards market diversification, reducing reliance on seasonal European demand.

The European chilled season’s conclusion has shifted focus towards preparing for the next season, with early deer sales indicating a positive outlook. The venison market has benefited from strong demand in North America, particularly for larger cuts, and from growth in the Chinese market, where venison is gaining traction.

Despite these positive developments, challenges remain, including potential supply chain disruptions through the Panama Canal and changes in regulations for deer velvet exports to China. The Chinese market, a significant buyer of New Zealand velvet, has introduced new regulations requiring velvet to be dried rather than frozen for export, adding complexity to the trade.

This resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges underscore the venison sector’s potential for continued growth and its importance within New Zealand’s agricultural landscape.