China gives green light for New Zealand venison exports to resume

Three deer species were approved for consumption.
Three deer species were approved for consumption. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand venison has been given the green light to enter China again, bringing relief for Kiwi exporters after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Sales were halted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with China clamping down on the sale of wild animal meat.

Despite New Zealand venison coming from farmed deer, the blanket ban had a direct impact on exporters here.

"Given that deer are still widely seen as wild animals, it's easy to see how some regional and border officials might have become uncertain about the legality of our farmed venison," said Innes Moffat, chief executive of Deer Industry NZ.

Around 10 percent of New Zealand venison was going to China at the end of 2019, Moffat said.

Exports were given the okay after the Chinese government released a catalogue of approved animal species fit for human consumption.

"The news is really very timely. 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. It's a good time for us to be selling our delicious venison there," Moffat said.

Three deer species - malu, sika and reindeer - were approved for consumption.