More deer were sent for processing in September than 2019 indicating that farmers took on board warnings from venison exporters in August. They urged farmers to take the money offered for the spring chilled season because of uncertain price prospects beyond Christmas.

Alliance Group filled and dispatched its last sea freight orders about the same time Europe went into a second lockdown.

European food service distributors venison manager, Terry O’Connell, said the timing couldn’t be worse for the recipient.

It was a very challenging situation and it had added more uncertainty. There were some very nervous clients in the food service industry who might have to freeze down products.

“At the same time there’s been cancellation in orders so it’s a very volatile situation.”

Andy Duncan, of specialist venison processor and exporter Duncan New Zealand, reiterated venison marketer concerns. Although pleased at venison supply and production during the chilled season, he was apprehensive about the ramifications of a second lockdown.

“The chilled product was on the water when the latest lockdown came into force so it remains to be seen how successfully distributors can move it along the supply chain.”

The European food service sector was expected to come out of lockdown on December 2, so there was still hope for reasonable consumption during the traditional game season, O’Connell said.

Contract prices for the September to end of October spring supply period peaked at more than $7/kg, Innes Moffat, DINZ chief executive said, but retreated quickly thereafter as the second wave of Covid-19 in European markets forced restaurant closures.

“No one is going to enjoy summer 2020/21, and the timing of the recovery remains uncertain.”

The arrival of vaccines which promise increased control of the disease offered an expectation that restaurants and consumer travel could return to more normal circumstances in the main markets in the year ahead.