Shoppers with a taste for farmed venison may find themselves smarting at the price - a shortage of stock has pushed sirloin to $40-$50 a kilogram, with no relief in sight.
One Auckland butcher said he could get venison only by placing a one-off order for eye fillet, at a cost to the customer of $99 a kilo.
The meat has been the subject of a marketing push by deer farmers wanting to reduce their reliance on the German restaurant trade. Its lean, iron-rich qualities have been advertised in food magazines and newspapers, making more people aware of its availability.
But now that New Zealand venison is being sold in countries such as Denmark and Sweden, more demand and less supply has pushed wholesale prices up 58 per cent on last year.
The price rise is good news for venison farmers, many of whom left the industry after wholesale prices plummeted between 2000 and 2005.
However, Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing manager Innes Moffat said prices at the butcher were likely to keep climbing over the next one or two years.
Prices at several Auckland butchers and supermarkets that stocked venison sirloin ranged from $38 to $56 a kilogram yesterday. Most quoted around $55 a kilogram, while a staff member at The Mad Butcher in Pt Chevalier said they had stopped selling venison two years ago when prices began to rise.
Reuben Sharples, who owns the Aussie Butcher franchises in Newmarket and New Lynn, said wholesale prices for unprocessed venison had gone from $5.30 a kg to $9 over the past two years.
He was able to sell sirloin for $39-$44 a kilogram only because he bought it whole and processed it. Purchasing venison pre-cut was much more expensive, he said.
Mr Moffat admitted prices at the butcher made venison a "special occasion" meat for shoppers.
Just 5 per cent of New Zealand venison is eaten here, so most farmers and processors expect the local price to match what they could get overseas. World prices are highest from October to December, traditionally the hunting season in Europe.
Mr Moffat said companies did not want to price venison off the market in New Zealand. At $28 to $30 a kilogram, venison leg steak was comparable to the price of a good cut of beef, and still very tender.