The country's deer industry is hoping mass COVID-19 vaccines around the world will help the struggling sector in 2021.
Last year venison prices hit a six-year low, as the global pandemic caused demand for the meat, which is mostly eaten at restaurants, to plummet.
But as vaccines for the coronavirus begin to be rolled out around the globe, the industry is now optimistic restrictions in some of our key export markets may soon be lifted, and people will start returning to restaurants.
"We saw last year over the summer when the lockdowns were eased that one of the first things that people wanted to do was get out and socialise with friends, and so the restaurant trade rebounds pretty quickly once those lockdowns are lifted," Innes Moffat, chief executive of Deer Industry New Zealand, told RNZ on Friday.
"The New Zealand deer industry has a big exposure to the restaurant sector, that is the sector that will pay the most money for high-quality proteins, like farm-raised New Zealand venison, so we are looking forward to those restaurants being open again."
Around a third of our venison exports go to Europe, with another third sent to North America and the remainder to Asia.
Despite many of the traditional markets shutting down due to COVID-19 Moffat said the industry had found new countries to export to, meaning there was no build-up of stock on our shores.
According to industry figures, venison exports in the 2020 calendar year up 3.3 percent on the previous year, from 11,404 tonnes to 11,781 tonnes.
However, Moffat said despite sales being slightly up "that has come at a price".
"Returns to farmers are down by about 30 percent on the year before, because we're not achieving quite the same returns from some of those alternative markets.," he told RNZ.
He said a lot of work had been done on building retail sales, however it would take time for prices to return to pre-pandemic levels.