New Zealand's venison export trade to China has resumed after the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted exports.

A catalogue of approved animal species for human consumption has been issued by the Peoples Republic of China.

It includes venison from farmed malu – the Chinese name for red deer – along with more traditional farm animals and poultry.

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Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat said the inclusion of deer would make it clear to officials across China that the sale and consumption of New Zealand venison was legal and safe for Chinese consumers.

"Chinese consumers have a growing appreciation for quality animal proteins, making China an increasingly important market for our venison," he said.

China was taking about 10 per cent of New Zealand venison exports until the end of 2019.

When it became clear that the Covid-19 virus had jumped the species barrier from wild animals, China clamped down on illegal sales of wild animal meat.

Although New Zealand venison comes from farmed deer, this put a virtual halt to exports there.

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Moffat thanked China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs for being responsive to the industry's requests for the status of NZ farmed venison to be clarified.

"Given that deer are still widely seen as wild animals, some regional and border officials might have become uncertain about the legality of New Zealand farmed venison," Moffat said.

China has seen a dramatic slowing of the incidence of Covid-19, to the point where Wuhan, the source of the pandemic, is reporting no new cases.


Restaurants in many regions are reopening, but with social distancing.

Germany and the United States are the biggest markets for New Zealand venison but China was becoming an important market before Covid-19 hit.

All up, about $300 million's worth of venison is exported to the world every year.