A new government-deer industry partnership aims to encourage Europeans to eat New Zealand venison year-round, not just during winter.
The official start of Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme Passion2Profit has been announced at the the deer industry conference in Napier.
The $16 million programme has been described as a game-changer in the production and marketing of venison.
It is forecast to boost the deer industry's income by more than $50 million a year by the time the programme ends in seven years.
One of the programme's aims is to get consumers in overseas markets used to the idea of venison at any time of the year, especially in Europe where it is generally regarded as a traditional game dish to be eaten in winter.
That limited seasonal demand is out of kilter with New Zealand's venison production and has been an ongoing frustration for the industry here.
Although exporters have tried to sell venison outside the game season before, they have only had limited success.
To break through that barrier, they have started a trial to test Europeans' appetite for New Zealand venison during the summer as a grilled or barbecued dish.
And, for the first time, they will be exposed to the marketing name for New Zealand farm-raised venison - Cervena.
Until now, it had been used only in this country, Australia and North America.
The Cervena name helped establish New Zealand venison as a year-round menu item at restaurants in the US.