An industry founded by entrepreneurs and innovators, the deer industry is relatively young. Farming the most recently domesticated animals, deer farmers have experienced all of the highs and lows that markets can deliver. With boom and bust cycles a regular occurrence, industry leaders developed a strategy to create an appellation for premium New Zealand Venison – Cervena. These leaders were visionary in many respects with both a sound structure and an intense focus on quality, Cervena has emerged as a model to admire and aspire to.
Collaboration is at the core of the appellation which extends both vertically and horizontally within the value chain. Cervena provides the platform for the consistent brand message, collaborative behavior and loyalty that ultimately generates a premium for farmer suppliers inside the farm gate. Cervena is not a whole of industry appellation and has very strict guidelines as to specifications that a product must meet to be branded. In this way it varies from other NZ industries which exhibit this marketing strategy such as Zespri with Kiwifruit. Appellations have been used through history and the designers of Cervena drew inspiration from the European guilds which successfully created localized monopolies which could set and maintained standards for the quality of goods and the integrity of trading practices in that industry, the guilds worked to maintain stable prices for their goods and commodities; and they sought to control town or city governments in order to further the interests of the guild members and achieve their economic objectives. All of which was developed and utilized through the 11th – 16th century in Europe. Further inspiration was drawn from the sparkling wine appellation – Champagne. Delivering value to the farmers who invest levies into the appellation is the ultimate goal by way of developing and growing new and existing markets for premium NZ venison. Drivers of the consumer decision have seen a change from taste, value and price to a real focus on quality, food safety, social impact and experience. The provenance of our food is paramount to the consumer and can only be delivered by a robust quality assurance and traceability program. Cervena delivers that assurance of a consistent premium product that can be eaten the world over at any time of the year. Cervena has a natural fit with the broader NZInc market strategies and messaging to the world.
Cervena sales into the US have recently become the largest export market by both value and volume, replacing Germany as the top export market for NZ venison. Cervena is certainly delivering on its core goals and we are entering into a golden era of venison pricing driven in part by limited supply but predominantly because of an appellation and collaboration throughout the industry.