Deer farmers have seen some recovery in the prices they are getting for their venison this month, as exports of chilled venison into the main European markets hit their peak.
Chilled venison fetches higher prices than frozen products, and this month farmers have been getting an average of more than $7.70 a kilo for a 60kg stag - about 30 cents a kilo higher than last year. In some cases, they have been getting more than $8 per kilo.
Andrew Duncan, chief executive of venison exporter Duncan and Co, said the price lift comes from better market returns, helped by some relief from a slightly weaker New Zealand dollar.
"The exchange rate is not a huge factor, because most of the current exchange rate movement has been the New Zealand dollar weakening against the US, whereas the main venison currency, if you like, is the euro," he said.
"However, the petfood and Asian co-products part of the returns from deer have both increased substantially in price and they are sold in US dollars, so the US dollar component of the returns is higher now than it was a couple of years ago."
Mr Duncan said venison prices for the rest of the season are also expected to be better than last year.
He said the deer industry would like to have chilled venison going into the main European markets all year round so that it can get those higher returns all season, instead of just for a few short months.
"Some of the non-European markets, such as the US, that's what it is: it's chilled 12 months of the year. There's still a seasonal aspect to it in terms of volumes, but the product is more consistently priced and at one level pretty much the whole year round.
"Now, if all the production from New Zealand was sold like that, you'd have a consistently stable farm gate price at the peak level so that's the sort of ideal to aspire to, and that's the goal of the industry's market investigation into Europe, to try and find a new market sector that is not just three months of the year chilled. but 12 months of the year chilled."