8 May 2013

Increasing demand for NZ deer velvet for health food products

6:36 am on 8 May 2013

An increasing demand for New Zealand antler velvet in health food products is reducing the deer industry's dependence on a single market.

New Zealand exports about $30 million worth of velvet a year and nearly all of it used to go to South Korea, where it's used mainly in traditional oriental medicine.

About 65% is still consumed in South Korea, either exported there directly or after being processed in China, which has become the biggest market for velvet.

Deer Industry New Zealand says about 20% is now used as an ingredient in health food products, both in South Korea and China.

Velvet marketing services manager Rhys Griffiths said it's important to the industry because it it get a closer link between the New Zealand producer and consumers in Korea and China.

"They can now access velvet through products such as drinks or capsules and take those as supplements."

Mr Griffths said health food products are underpinning the greater stability in velvet prices seen in the past few years.