Forum Posts

Mountain River Venison
Sep 10, 2020
In Community News
A lot of activity has been happening in the world of social media and we thought we’d share just a few little snapshots of how venison lovers have been sharing their passion for our product. Venison Season 365 All the way from Uppsala, Sweden, they’ve been showing much love for New Zealand homegrown venison. Stationen Svenssons Krogar, a restaurant in the historic Uppsala city centre, has been using our venison cuts for three years now and they’re still going strong. It travels a long way to get there but when it does, it still seems to be going strong year after year! Take a look at the post - https://www.instagram.com/p/CEPYi-FnGT1/ Herb & Mustard Crust Venison Rack Terra Mare Prime has been importing high quality meat from this part of the world to North America for a while now and showed off this little Trans-Tasman combo they’re trying out in Los Angeles. A Herb and Mustard Crust New Zealand venison rack with Australian sea salt on top. One to certainly grab the attention of the discerning L.A. food crowd. If you’re interested, take a look at the Racks and Medallions for sale on their online store. The Herb & Mustard Crust Venison Rack recipe is also up there for you to try! https://terramareprime.com/shop/details/mountainrivervenison The product received a 5-star review in July: “We have broiled two racks on separate occasions. Each time, I pulled the meat out of the broiler at 120 degrees internal temperature. Rest for 10 minutes. Outstanding at this medium rare finish. Love it!! One 2 1/2 lb. rack is plenty of meat for four people.” Here’s the original post - https://www.instagram.com/p/CBTuzlUDneX/ Grass Fed Wapiti Weaners Make sure you follow Glen @nzbison and take a look at the original post here - https://www.instagram.com/p/CCrTqbQFg-b/ Last but not least, and a bit closer to home, we’ve had some fantastic shots taken of where it all begins on the South Island. This is in Alford Forest and is a great representation of the environment our deer live their lives out in before any venison makes it on to any plate. Any person would be lucky to live somewhere as beautiful as this so you can only imagine how the deer feel about it! So that’s a little taste of what’s been happening on Mountain River Venison’s Instagram adventures around the world. Clearly they’re loving the product we’re shipping from these fair shores and we looking forward to more new and exciting recipes the world’s chefs add to our world leading venison.
Social Media Spotlight content media
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Mountain River Venison
Sep 07, 2020
In Community News
Henning Kvick is crazy about meat. Take one look at his Instagram account and it’s an endless array of different cuts, recipes, and anecdotes about his experiences with the food he loves. And now, he’s decided to expand upon this passion with a new book entitled ‘Meat Cravings: Less Is More’. In this book, Henning dedicates a section to his experience with Mountain River Venison. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with Henning’s work at all. He is a loyal supporter of Mountain River by representing our product to the foodservice trade in Sweden. He last visited New Zealand in 2018 and, in his book, tells the story behind how venison came to this country, along with a recipe for Venison Steak Tartare to accompany it. Currently, Henning’s with the company he’s been at for the last two and a half decades; Menigo. With them, he sells food and vegetables all across Sweden, working with chefs to ascertain what ingredients would work best for their recipes. It’s a labour of love for him. And even when he’s unwinding with the family, he’s still manning the outdoor grill! The new book comes off the back of a spark in interest for NZ venison among chefs in Sweden. After gradually introducing it to a few restaurants, the word is spreading. This is mostly due to the way venison is traditionally served in Sweden. Usually, it’s solely a winter dish that goes out of season when the weather warms up. With NZ venison, Henning has successfully encouraged chefs to serve it 365 days a year with the seasonal vegetables changing to keep flavours dynamic and fluid. And, although he says that COVID has hampered this mission somewhat, Henning is optimistic. The next frontier is the private market via supermarkets and butcher shops. This, he says, could spark a new interest in this novel product for Swedish shoppers. And who knows, maybe the new book might add a little kick to that growing interest! Take a look at the publishers website for a further summary on the book: http://www.norstedts.se/bocker/189302-meat-cravings Follow Henning on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kvicken71/
New book by fresh food specialist and meat fanatic, Henning Kvick content media
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Mountain River Venison
Aug 28, 2020
In Chef's Table
China has been growing in its demand for New Zealand venison and, even though there have been obstacles due to the current COVID crisis, it seems that the industry is finding new ways to overcome those challenges and deliver exciting new dining experiences through the Shanghai restaurant scene. The newest restaurant adding their touch on New Zealand Venison is Mr. Willis (http://mrwillis.com.cn/willis/) Mr. Willis is a small Italian restaurant in the centre of Shanghai that specialises in a more gourmet style of dining. And recently, their new venison dish has generated a lot of excitement. The dish is a peppered venison fillet with charred beetroot, purslane, and savoury pomegranate that has been added to their repertoire. So far, the dish has been promoted on social media and seems to be very popular with Shanghai’s diners as they once again re-acquaint themselves with the restaurants the city has to offer. Another successful chapter of venison featuring in Shanghai’s dining scene.
Now on the menu in the Mr Willis restaurant in #Shanghai content media
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Mountain River Venison
Jul 30, 2020
In Market News
James Petrie from Merchant of Venison has been involved in an exciting new initiative for venison mince meat starting with a few select retailers, including Pak ‘N’ Save Wairau Park in Auckland. However, it wasn’t actually supposed to happen. By happy accident, 2 cartons of trim were sent out by mistake. So the price was set at a few dollars below the price for steak mince meat and an unexpected experiment took place. So far, it has absolutely paid off. 150 kilos of venison mince are sold per week with customers not only attracted by the competitive price, but also the experience of using it compared to beef. Venison mince meat not only has a very different taste to beef, it also produces less fat and grease when cooked. This has resulted in certain customers swearing by it and a gradual growing number of retailers testing the waters with this product. In the end, Petrie said it was one happy accident that set this all in motion. And at a time when most people are counting pennies a lot more carefully, having a product that is both good value and of high quality has made it especially popular. Download
Merchant of Venison content media
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Mountain River Venison
Jul 17, 2020
In Chef's Table
CooKit is a new initiative who have started to work with a number of Shanghai restaurants by creating a unique new way to experience the items on their menus. The Commune Social, who have our rump and short rib cuts on their menu, partnered with CooKit to create a new way to experience the New Zealand venison they have on offer. Instead of going to the restaurant to have the ingredients cooked for you, why not have the ingredients brought by the restaurant to your kitchen at home! Head Chef Sergio Moreno made some kits of ingredients ready to be delivered around Shanghai with instructions on how to prepare the menu meal just the way he does. Different to most meal kits which require cooking, these kits just need warming and plating. This means anyone can make a restaurant quality meal in their own home without needing any specialist practice or training. Even though the Shanghai regional area has opened up and allowed residents to eat out again, many residents are still taking social distancing precautions and spending much more cautiously than before. This idea, run via WeChat, has had an incredibly positive response and the Rump has been their top seller so far, selling twice as much as the previous week. For CooKit and The Commune Social, these kits are reaching those people who maybe want to save a bit of money from dining out or who simply just want the novelty of having a restaurant meal at their own dining table! Hunter McGregor, Mountain River Venison’s representative in China, has said the uptake for their venison delivery kits was extremely positive. The Commune Social is a unique new restaurant in Shanghai created in part by British celebrity chef and TV presenter Jason Atherton and even before this initiative, they were doing things a little differently. The restaurant has separate terraces, gardens, and courtyards designed for different styles of dining experience. The idea is that diners move through different areas of the venue as they move from snacks to tapas to main courses and finally to the bar with the intention of making dining like an exploration! As for those kits, included New Zealand venison rump with a labneh yoghurt purée and lavender wine sauce and New Zealand venison ribs with a tamarind glaze, smoked garlic purée and furikake. A small start so far for CooKit, but given the early positivity, it remains to be seen what other types of New Zealand venison will be delivered to Shanghai’s front doors. Watch Head Chef Sergio Moreno talk through the dish: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBixweeFOPU/ Take a look at CooKit on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cookit.shanghai/
Innovative Distribution Initiative in Shanghai  content media
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Mountain River Venison
Jul 12, 2020
In Community News
You may remember last year when David and Ellie Morgan of Raincliff station, as well as Glen Whyte from Whyte Farming, trekked over to the land of the free and home of the brave to spread the word about New Zealand venison; a product that is under-rated in the American market. While touring venues across the East Coast primarily, the initial response was of intrigue from the chefs and wait-staff. Venison is still a relatively unknown meat product among both consumers and hospitality workers, so to be visited by suppliers who live and breathe venison was of significant interest. Donald Whyte, who was among the first suppliers to initially take the US Sales Trip, said it well when explaining why trips like these are so important. He says ‘it’s all about linking chefs and customers with the suppliers to explain what we do. We go to tell our story, but it’s not our story, it’s our life.’ And this is how each presentation began, this time led by his son Glen Whyte showing them the green valleys and hills of the South Island. We took a moment to visit each farm and have a look at the unique way each operation nurtures and raises its deer to produce high quality and consistent venison in a uniquely New Zealand way. Take a look at the full story here: The unspoiled, dramatic New Zealand landscape received a great response from the American audience as well as the small nature of these operations. Glen Whyte commented on the way they couldn’t believe how much wide open space the deer have to themselves. For the most part, it was about talking to chefs and restaurant staff about how to prepare and present the product consistently across all seasons. The team toured a variety of restaurants and met a variety of chefs who will most likely all put their spin on the world-leading New Zealand venison product. Safe to say both sides of the supply chain will be looking forward to the next visit.
Reflecting on the 2019 US Sales Trip content media
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Mountain River Venison
Jul 01, 2020
In Chef's Table
A few weeks back, Hunter went to the Oxalis ’Summer Begins’ Terrace Party in Shanghai to witness the showcase of music, design, fashion, and dining that the city has to offer. At a time when the city is slowly finding its feet again after lockdown, this European Garden Party themed event was a welcome relief for the guests in attendance. Attending on behalf of Mountain River Venison, Hunter was there to represent one of the products included in the dining showcase; a New Zealand venison tart prepared by French Chef Jonas Noel. Chef Jonas also placed his NZ venison offering beside other fine dining food such as wagyu beef, Australian octopus legs, and Boston Lobster. Not a bad table to be presented on! Figures from the media industry to the hospitality industry as well as many supporters of Oxalis came out to support the venue and Chef Jonas said in his toast for the night that he was especially grateful to all those guests from around the world who, he says, inspire his work and his vision for what the venue has to offer. The event was incredibly well received by local media and guests in attendance and for a venue that is only six months old, it was incredibly special to experience an event of this size after a turbulent few months in China. A successful event to let Shanghai-ers rediscover the creative joys of dining out. The event was called ‘Summer Begins’ and for Oxalis, Summer is beginning. After this, they say, it feels like the start of something new.
A Terrace Party by Oxalis in Shanghai content media
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Mountain River Venison
Jun 22, 2020
In Processing & Distribution
A recent article by the New York Post details a blueprint for how businesses in the food supply industry can survive Covid-19. As a long term distributor partner, D'Artagnan has been among countless business owners who have quickly adapted to the coronavirus pandemic to keep their business thriving. Take a look at the article for yourself: https://nypost.com/2020/04/12/heres-how-to-pivot-your-business-in-order-to-survive-and-thrive/amp/ The feedback from D'Artagnan has been that the big sellers in the venison category are steaks, ground bricks and venison sausages. With our ongoing interest in the United States, it provides a good insight as to how others in the industry are weathering the Covid-19 storm. What’s more, many of the recommendations are relevant right across the world during this unique period. These recommendations include: Keeping brand awareness alive and well through unique and novel ideas and methods Seeking all avenues of government assistance if possible or if required Get Creative! Test out new ideas and see what sticks. Innovation can be a great asset during a crisis A worthwhile read for anyone in the industry interested in a discussion about the short term and who are looking for ways to keep pushing ahead.
D'Artagnan in the New York Post content media
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Mountain River Venison
Jun 14, 2020
In Market News
23rd January 2020 is the day that everything changed; the day that China closed down due to COVID-19.  Everything stopped. We received only one order at a time when we should have been flat out. It's safe to say that it has been a tough start to the year and we are now operating in a 'new normal'.  While the sale of NZ venison hasn't been banned in China, for a few months that was looking ever likely, which led to plenty of sleepless nights. Thankfully, it has been confirmed that New Zealand red deer venison is on the approved product list and we can move forward by servicing the changing market. From a shallow base in February, we are back selling venison and experiencing growing sales. Here is a summary of the approach we’re taking in four different market segments: 5 Star Hotels Many of our larger clients are 5 Star Hotels and it has taken time over the past few years to develop these relationships. The current landscape means that this sales channel has stopped and will not return in any meaningful way - until later this year at the earliest.  Currently, a majority of these clients are running at 10% to 30% occupancy, where pre-COVID-19 they were around 90% to 100%. People are not back travelling yet, and many hotel restaurants are closed or have been running on reduced menus. Although many have seen this low occupancy; a few hotels have returned to purchase from us during May, albeit in small volumes. It's encouraging to see venison return to menus, and we trust this trend will continue in the coming months.  Another positive is the reopening of hotel buffets in Shanghai over the last few weeks. Surprisingly, the rules have remained consistent in regards to foodservice and social distancing meaning consumers can eat as much as, and as fast as, they can! A challenge we continue to focus on is getting venison onto summer buffets. We have had a few quick wins and are looking for new opportunities by continuing to build relationships. Things are changing fast, as most hotels get back up and running, and our focus is setting ourselves up for increased sales volumes come September. Restaurants Unfortunately, as the restaurant industry in China is tight at the best of times, a number of our regular clients have closed their doors for good. On the flip side, the restaurants which remain open are now doing really well.  There has been an emerging trend around China of people spending a little less per meal at western restaurants. Consumers are looking for more value for money which is putting pressure on the top end. This trend has continued post-COVID-19, and many medium to high-end restaurants are feeling the pressure. Currently, our biggest client (volume-wise) is a 78-seat coffee shop come pub called Mel Bourne (see previous story). In May, Mel Bourne purchased an average of 25 kgs per week and this has increased in June. They have a good location and excellent quality food, serving 150g burger patties and venison rumps. This volume is well above other restaurants we have supplied previously, as Mel Bourne’s main point of difference is venison. A number of restaurants around Shanghai are starting to do well and we are being contacted by former loyal clients interested in adding venison back to their menus. Our reputation for quality products, a reputation built over the last few years, puts us in a good position to weather the pricing pressures.  We are also picking up some new restaurants in Shanghai and around China, which is always positive. Direct to Consumer We are slowly developing a direct to consumer model, which we will primarily operate ourselves. The challenge here is the same as in the rest of the world - people are still learning to cook venison at home.  To address this challenge, we will start with foreign/western cooking and move to Chinese at some point soon. We are gradually building an online community around the product and are excited to see how this will develop over time.  Processed Products Following the growth we have seen from our burger patties, we are looking to expand our processed venison offering in China. We are looking for another factory to expand our range which isn't easy, given the meat processing rules in China. This initiative will help increase volume as we begin our push into the retail space.    In summary, there is plenty of hard work ahead of us to get back to some good sales volume after the economic pause that COVID-19 brought. We are positive in the future with the indication from the market heading in the right direction and with the new segments that we are working to serve.
Venison in China – A Market Update content media
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Mountain River Venison
Jun 01, 2020
In Chef's Table
Opened in August 2019, Mel Bourne has quickly established itself apart on the competitive Shanghai restaurant scene. The best way to describe their position is as a high-end coffee shop or a nice pub. Simply a venue that serves great food and provides good service. A simple and familiar idea executed to the highest standard. The Mel Bourne team have worked very hard to promote their restaurant on Dianping; a Chinese super app built around restaurant reviews. The venue has been rated very highly within this app, being rated number one for their area and in the top 5 western cuisine restaurants in Shanghai. Mountain River Venison has been a key part of Mel Bourne’s success. They recognised early on that a consistent, high quality product could give them a point of difference and put them in high regard among Chinese consumers. Currently, the pre-made venison burger and rump take pride of place on their menu and over the winter months, they’ve had a venison shank pie on offer that sold very well. Mel Bourne are not priced at the top end of the market but they offer good value, which is what the Chinese consumer is looking for. As Chinese consumer’s tighten their budgets in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, good value and high quality are the two main priorities for people looking to dine out. This translates into mid range venues like Mel Bourne seeing a lot more patronage than more high end venues, which has been a huge advantage for the business. As spring turns into summer in China, venues will be watching to see if the good weather encourages more people to dine out. Coming out of the COVID-19 lock down back in early March, Mel Bourne were one of the first restaurants to re-open in their area and come April, they had just about their best month in sales with May looking even better. If this trend continues, the next few months should look promising.
Venison Burger at Mel Bourne in Shanghai content media
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Mountain River Venison
Apr 24, 2020
In Farmer Stories
A few months back, we visited Raincliff Station with the intention of showing more about the farm and its people following David and Ellie’s US Sales Trip. David Morgan says it’s family bonds that are critical to the nimble way his Raincliff Station business runs. His wife, along with daughter Ellie, run the Cafe and Gift Shop. His son Brychan heads a contracting firm and Ellie’s partner Brad manages the day to day operations on the farm. This family-oriented structure, says David, means he has the ability to experiment and lead the way in areas like environmentally sustainable land management. David says this is an area his family are very passionate about and by planting native plants and trees to aid water drainage and filtration they’ve been able to commit to environmentally sustainable methods into the future. As for the deer, this operation means more focus can be placed on providing a safe and nurturing environment for the animals which in turn, produces better venison. David maintains that good stockmanship is about minimising stress for the animals. Being gentle with the animals, providing purpose built shelters, minimising herd pressure, and freedom in their diet means a managed and safe environment for producing fine quality venison. Meanwhile, in the United States, the recent sales trip by David, Ellie and fellow producer Glen Whyte garnered a lot of interest from customers in the foodservice industry. Although met by the chef’s often with hesitancy at first, when they understood why they were there and sampled the product, interest levels rose dramatically and chefs often committed to putting venison on their menus. But it wasn’t a one-way street. The trip not only enabled the chefs to understand the producers but also put David, Ellie and Glen in contact with their market and, as a result, they gained a much clearer understanding of the interest surrounding Cervena venison. In short, Cervena clearly is a product with a lot of potential. For our farmers to be at the forefront of realising that potential is not only good for them and their families, it means a better product for consumers around the world.
Raincliff Station US Sales Trip Follow Up content media
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Mountain River Venison
Mar 31, 2020
In Market News
China has been at the top of the headlines at the heart of the global COVID-19 outbreak. After two months in lockdown, the once steadily growing customer base for the food service industry has almost completely dried up. As China’s outbreak starts to show signs of subsiding, and lockdown restrictions are being eased, we asked if there has been a surge in customers dining out after spending so long locked away at home. We checked in with Hunter McGregor, key Mountain River partner in China, to learn about the situation on the ground and hear if there has been a recovery to the market. Although Shanghai didn’t experience the full lockdown that Wuhan did, the partial lockdown restrictions have had a major impact on business. Like here in New Zealand, restaurants, bars, and shops have all been closed. Lately, there has been an easing of restrictions but Hunter says “they’re relaxed to a point but there are still plenty of restrictions in place to make sure it doesn’t kick off again.” As for the restaurant trade, he says it’s ‘non-existent’ and that ‘plenty of places are re-opening but no one is eating out.’ As an example, he talks about a customer who works in a high-profile restaurant in Shanghai’s historic Bund district. “Pre-virus, they would’ve had on average 240 people per night. Now, on weekend nights, they have about 40 per night. This is a big change and it’s uncertain what’s going to happen in the coming months.” In terms of selling directly to consumers, there will be challenges as China implements its ban on the sale of ‘wild meat’, leaving a sense of uncertainty. “They have commented in the media that venison is on the list. This is a bit of a challenge as nothing is really clear at the moment but we don’t think/hope the sale of venison will be banned. The Chinese government is talking about a banned list of animals but it hasn’t been released yet. If it is on the list, it’ll include co-products and Velvet, which is a massive challenge for the industry. Logically, NZ venison should be fine but we just don't know. We have not been told officially we can’t sell NZ venison, so we'll just get on with it ”, says Hunter. In short, the industry will be holding its breath to see what concrete food regulations the Chinese government announces as restrictions are eased off. The good news, as Hunter states, is “more and more places are re-opening, people are heading out, and the weather is getting warmer. So things are heading in the right direction”. The very fact that people are heading back to work is encouraging in itself and the government has been pushing for this to happen. “To be fair, the government has done a great job moving millions of people around the country to get them back to work”, he says. On a personal level, Hunter notes the management of the crisis by the Chinese government has been very good. “At no point during the whole time did we feel unsafe in Shanghai. We were worried and concerned, but felt OK where we were”. It seems this has been the Chinese government’s mantra throughout this crisis; prioritising human safety. And though the food service business has suffered through the restrictions over the last few months, Hunter is hopeful there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things will pick up again. As he put it, “it’s like starting our business again but this time we know what we’re doing”.
China: Navigating The Rocky Road Ahead content media
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Mountain River Venison
Dec 23, 2019
In Farmer Stories
Glen Whyte embarked on a sales tour to the USA in September, presenting Mountain River Cervena Venison to a variety of chefs and restaurants around the country. The first day of the tour saw Glen in Brooklyn, New York, with sales rep Stephanie Schneider from importer/distributor D’Artagnan. He presented our venison to 6 chefs that one afternoon! Stephanie reported the chefs were very enthusiastic about hearing the Mountain River story - and Glen did a great job of telling it. Her take on the meetings, Glen’s presentation and chefs reactions follows…. In each meeting, Glen showed the expanse of the land in New Zealand, the grasses and feed that they grow, the way that the deer are fed, and the way the deer are contained and shifted around the land with the fences. He also talked about the breeding of the deer at his father’s farm and the time frame and age at which they come down to his land for the grow out period (they are born around Dec 1st and come down at beginning of March). They come down at about 125 lbs and then grow to about 225-300 lbs. Furthermore, he talked about the happiness of the deer, that they ‘play’ and how they come right up to the farmers and come when they are called out to. Deer from Glens farm are transported on truck and to the processing plant in a very short, stress free time and the deer then have a day to relax before the processing at Mountain River. The consistency of sizing and weighing of cuts at Mountain River was also discussed in depth. Glen showed a lot of pictures of the processing plant of some specific cuts being butchered, weighed and then some of the packaging. Glen mentioned to chefs that calling the product Cervena and explaining what it means on the menu is a great way to distinguish the product from wild venison and that it’s a great dialogue for the server to have with the guests (i.e. a great selling point!). He also talked about the fact that Cervena venison can be put on the menu all year, trying to diffuse the traditional view that venison is only a winter item. When it came to the tasting (Glen brought a rack cutlet) all the chefs loved it. They were impressed with the flavour and the tenderness of the meat. They were encouraged to try searing or grilling it with just a little salt and pepper - although a couple of chefs added some extra seasoning. The cut was perfect for representing the quality of the meat and it cooked pretty quickly. During the tasting, Glen also talked about which cuts would be interesting for their menu. We’re pleased to report that all of the chefs said yes - they want to bring it in for their menus! At Five Leaves, the Australian owners said yes, absolutely it would be something for their dinner menu. They had doubts, whether their clientele would be venison eaters as they sell many burgers and avocado toast, but they immediately wanted to try it out and put together a special of grilled venison after the visit. Take a look for yourself: Feedback from the other chefs/restaurants that day: Sunday in Brooklyn – The Chefs loved the meat.  Derek wanted to know who else was selling in the neighbourhood, because he wants to be different.  He would choose the Tri-Tip, Denver Leg, or Saddle. He really was interested in Venison Offal – Hearts specifically. P and C - He has used the Osso Buco in past restaurants.  He really appreciated the tenderness of the meat.  He thought the tri-tip, rack or the loin could be great for a small plate or a tasting menu. River Café – Chef Brad was interested in the breeding aspect of the deer, so Glen talked about that.  At his Dad’s farm the deer roam into the hills and they introduce a stag to the mix. When the female deer are ready, they come back on their own. He is interested in the saddle for his fall menu which hopefully will be launched by end of the month. The Bathhouse (not open yet).  They had taken some stew meat already to recipe test. Their menu will tout the sustainability of products and they want to have items people who are health conscious will want to eat. They are trying to figure out which cut will work (we tried to push the saddle as there are several applications). The Hoxton – This was a last minute add-on, so we didn’t get to do a tasting.  Chef Raoul is familiar with our product but this is a new kitchen for him.  He is into striploin and tenderloin.  We also suggested Denver leg.  Glen and chef Raoul talked a little about his wood fired grill and what items he cooks there and how that works. Stephanie says that she also learned a lot on the Brooklyn visit. She mentioned appreciating Glen’s dedication and passion for the animals and his farm, and his professionalism in wanting to provide the best product! We look forward to continuing the relationships with these 6 chefs and seeing how they use our venison on their menus.
Stephanie Schneider reports on the first day of Glen Whyte’s USA sales tour content media
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Mountain River Venison
Dec 23, 2019
In Chef's Table
Nestled at the heart of the Bernese Alps, the Glacier Hotel – a staple of the Grindelwald landscape since 1864 – is a home away from home. Striking a balance between homestyle comfort and sustainable design, this boutique hotel offers a luxurious alpine experience unique to the area. One of the core elements of the hotel is the Glacier Restaurant. Described as ‘food for the soul’, their menu boasts exquisite, sustainably sourced ingredients with a focus on homemade, seasonal meals. Mountain River was recently given the opportunity to showcase samples of venison during a promotion with Swiss chefs from the Grindelwald area, hosted by the Glacier Hotel. The chefs tasted the petit tender in a variety of ways, including carpaccio, tataki, tri-tip, as well as short ribs and knuckle round. Shannon was also able to provide background on Mountain River’s sustainable farming practices. After the promotion with Shannon Campbell, two restaurants have begun using Mountain River venison on their menu. The first is the restaurant at Hotel Spinne - https://www.spinne.ch/en. The Hotel Spinne is located in the heart of the glacier village of Grindelwald at the foot of the Eiger North Wall in the Jungfrau region. The Spinne (Spider) is an ice field in the North Wall which, because of its permanent snow formation, resembles a spider. Their restaurant, the Rôtisserie, Ristorante Mercato & Bistro, put on a dish using venison rump. The next two dishes (ribs and rump) are on the menu at Hotel Aspen - https://www.hotel-aspen.ch/en Built in a classic Swiss chalet style, the Aspen Alpine Lifestyle Hotel in Grindelwald is next to the hiking trails and ski slopes of the Kleine Scheidegg/Männlichen Area. From this success, Mountain River looks forward to seeing the partnership with chefs in Grindelwald, Switzerland grow!
Follow up to Grindelwald Promotion (Switzerland) content media
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Mountain River Venison
Dec 23, 2019
In Market News
We’re thrilled that specialty meat store ‘Meat Me’ in Mexico is stocking Mountain River venison. ‘Meat Me’ is a boutique specialty meat retail concept launched by Brazilian-owned meat company Swift/JBS to feature Swift products as well as specialties such as Duck, porcelet, Venison, Lamb etc. They currently have 8 locations in and around Mexico City with plans for expansion in 2020. The stores are situated in affluent neighborhoods with the core clientele being the ‘food adventurous consumer’ and the private chef / catering trade.
Mountain River in Mexican specialty store content media
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Mountain River Venison
Dec 17, 2019
In Community News
With over 14 years experience, some of which spent working alongside world renowned French chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants, Chef Addison Liew brings his love for French cuisine to the tables of Brasserie 1893 in Beijing. A restaurant built around candid chef and guest interaction, gastronomical indulgence, and aesthetic bliss – Brasserie 1893 boasts a menu highlighting seasonal ingredients and the delicate fusion of traditional French dishes with fresh Asian flavours. Having used Mountain River venison on his menu last year, Chef Liew recently made the long trip from Beijing to New Zealand to learn more about the product. This opportunity to complete the circle, from farm to table, is extremely important for chefs who dedicate themselves to sourcing the highest quality ingredients for their dishes. Planning to add fallow venison saddle to the menu by the end of the year, Chef Liew visited Northbank Station to see the care, dedication, and sustainable practices of Mountain River farms. He enjoyed visiting the farms and meeting the team, and experiencing this beautiful part of New Zealand. We look forward to seeing what new venison dishes Chef Liew produces for Brasserie 1893!
Chef Addison Liew's visit to NZ content media
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Mountain River Venison
Dec 17, 2019
In Market News
You may remember our August story about journalist Lynda Gray and her visit to the USA. Well, we’re proud to share that her D’Artganan Report has now been published in Country Wide Magazine. The United States is the largest single customer for New Zealand venison with the export value increasing from $34.8 million to $81.9m over the three years to September 2018. But who’s buying it and how is it being used? Lynda Gray caught up with D’Artagnan, a New Jersey-based distributor, to find out. You can download the full article PDF here:
Lynda Gray in Country Wide Magazine content media
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Mountain River Venison
Dec 10, 2019
In Market News
Kiwi Week was an NZTE event showcasing New Zealand food, wine, and culture across 6 Chinese cities. From the 1st to the 17th of November, 70 kiwi food and beverage brands shared the best New Zealand has to offer through a variety of events designed to give guests an authentic kiwi experience. Mountain River was involved through a number of long-term clients who use our venison on their menus year-round. These chefs enjoy working with Mountain River because of the consistent high quality and positive feedback from their Chinese patrons. For the duration of the event people looking for a kiwi culinary experience were encouraged to eat their way around China at the numerous restaurants boasting everything from traditional Chinese food prepared with New Zealand exports, to quintessentially kiwi meals. One of these restaurants was Commune Social in Shanghai, with Chef Sergio showcasing a special blend of traditional Chinese and fresh New Zealand flavours. The dish, presented at Kiwi Week, was grilled venison ribs with a pear walnut puree and roasted and pickled pears. The ribs are marinated in over 15 different spices for a day, then slow cooked overnight and finished on charcoal for a wonderful smoky flavour. Other restaurants that served Mountain River include Bird, El Willy, JW Marriot, M on the Bund, Sheraton Jiading, and Westin Bund. Mountain River is proud to represent the best of New Zealand venison. Here are the dishes from each of the restaurants:
China ‘Kiwi Week’ 2019 content media
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Mountain River Venison
Nov 27, 2019
In Community News
After an impressive and dedicated career building and working for Mountain River, Ian Stewart has chosen to retire from his role as General Manager of Mountain River Processors. Ian is well respected in the deer industry and has contributed a lot over his long career. Many of those who know, and/or who have worked with Ian over the years, describe him as down to earth, calm under pressure, solutions-focused, hugely supportive, insightful, honest, and not afraid to tell you what he thinks. He is what you would call a ‘steady hand on the tiller’ type of manager. Looking back at Ian’s long career In 1966, at 16 years old, Ian started part-time at the Mossburn venison works as a labourer. He was also working on the family farm at the same time. The Mossburn factory had been set up to pack wild venison for export to Germany and the USA. Some days there would be hundreds of deer arriving from helicopter operators. They were the ‘hay days’ of the wild deer recovery industry. Ian remembers the products were all packed in 27.2kg boxes, which required a lot of juggling to get the weight right for bone in shoulders, legs and saddles. Each box contained a mix of large and small pieces. Getting the carcass branding right was also a common challenge. The USA required stamping using Indigo Violet ink and Europe required Brown ink. A mistake or change of market involved the hassle of removing and replacing the brands. Ian worked up the chain to become the general manager at Mossburn in 1987. Ian's involvement with Mountain River goes back to 1994. The Mossburn plant had been taken over by PPCS after the collapse of Venison New Zealand, but Ian made the decision not to accept a job with the new owner – what he sees as one of the most significant decisions in his career. The Doug Hood Group had purchased Northbank Station which had a licensed slaughter plant on it, and they were keen to do something with it. Fortex was one of the major venison companies at the time, and happened to be just down the road at Seafield in Ashburton. The Doug Hood Group had started building the processing facility before Fortex went into receivership. In those days Fortex was at least 40% of the NZ Venison industry. At this time farmers were finding it hard to get space at Fortex, and that was huge driver for the Doug Hood Group to do something. Mt Hutt Station was part of the Doug Hood Group, who themselves ran a few thousand deer. It was subsequently sold to Keith and Denise Hood who continue to supply deer to Mountain River. “It was always our intention to slaughter one day and process the next. Word spread quickly that we were opening so we started receiving a huge number of job applications, mainly from people who had worked at Fortex and had been made redundant. So from day one we started with a very experienced crew. That made the decision to slaughter and process every day a lot easier”, Ian recalls. Ian remembers Kerry and Shane during the period when they had decided to replace the original slaughter floor with a new one after 8 years. They, along with Hamish, designed the new slaughter floor by laying out cardboard cut outs of the equipment in the car park to see how the design would work. Paneltech, who built Mountain River, pulled down the old slaughterhouse and built the new one over a Christmas break - which was a huge effort under the circumstances, and very much appreciated by Ian and the whole team. “The day before we resumed the first kill, the yards were full of deer and we could hear them moving around in the yards while we were still doing the last minute things to finish off the new slaughterhouse. It all worked like clockwork thanks to a huge effort all round”. In Ian’s early days at Mossburn they only processed wild deer. Once live capture started, the numbers of wild deer for processing declined dramatically. Farmers who were starting to develop deer farms were paying much more than meat value for live deer, spending up to $2,000 to $3,000 per hind. It was the start-up phase of the deer industry and farms were investing in it heavily. By 2003, they started more specialised cutting to meet the needs of overseas clients. Ian’s company saw the need to expand the processing room as they wanted to fit a multi-vac packaging machine into the room. The addition went very smoothly and still works well! Since then, they have added a Desinewed Mince Meat machine and a new auto vacuum packaging machine with a shrink tunnel. Outside the factory Ian has been involved in many areas of development for Mountain River Venison due to his other interests, one of these being China. Ian has always loved visiting the country and is fascinated by the culture. Because of this, Mountain River was the first venison plant to have a China listing. Ian, along with John Sadler, and sometimes Graham Brown (the NZ Deer Industry Chef), has visited customers in Europe, China, and the USA. It certainly helped to get more hands on with trends and customers' needs and perceptions, Ian says. Ian has also travelled with Kerry and Shane and other Mountain River Processors’ staff members, which speaks to the team and people culture that Ian has facilitated among the business. “For the team, trips like these are just so valuable. As an example, Shane visited Sweden and the USA over the past two years, and that has given him a lot more appreciation of what we are all trying to achieve together”. Ian also understands Mountain River's value as a specialist venison producer, and especially, Mountain River Processors role in that. He says that, “Because the bigger venison players slaughtered a lot more deer than us they needed to sell in the commodity markets. John Sadler quickly convinced us that our way forward was by doing more specialty cuts, which we are still doing today. Shane Webster has been instrumental for leading the way on this at the plant”. Ian reflects on some difficult times along the way “I only got to know Doug Hood for 2 years before he passed away. Doug I found was very knowledgeable and supportive. Doug's wife Mary stepped into the role of Group Manager after Doug's death and she still holds that position today. Mary is a real trooper and very supportive. ‘Keep going’ is her motto, and it’s good to have a leading person like that.” “The saddest part of my time during the early helicopter days was attending 13 funerals over an 18 month period. Most helicopter pilots will tell you that it's the pilot that lets the helicopter down and not the helicopter letting them down.” “Our early days at Mountain River were often ‘seat of your pants kind of days’, anything could go wrong. For example, one farmer had sent a TB animal in and, unbeknown to us at the time, he had cut the TB reactor tabs off. MAF found this out quite a while after the event and the farmer admitted it. By this time some of the products had already left the factory in containers and were on their way to Europe. Ian had to travel to Belgium to find the effected containers and sort through them, aided by John Sadler. Ian was away dealing with this for about 3 weeks.” Highlights & important milestones Ian is leaving behind an excellent management team and a very good slaughter and processing team. Over the years Ian has contributed to making that team what it is today: a hard-working team who knows the industry inside out. Having personal friendship is invaluable, as Ian says, “We all sort have grown together.” New Zealand Deer numbers are at their lowest, and have been for some time, but there now appears to be a slow and steady climb in numbers, which is good going forward. The Doug Hood Group has spent millions of dollars in the past three years developing Northbank Station by converting to pivot irrigation. Ian expects that Northbank Station will soon be a well-developed farm, and something the whole group will be extremely proud of. “I am sure no other venison company in New Zealand has the complete pasture to plate scenario that our group has and something we can be really proud and grateful for”, Ian says. Ian is a great example of someone instrumental in the growth of the business. Loyal to the concept of a supply chain that is owned by different parties, Ian has always seen the value of partnership. He focuses on his part while developing a good team. Where to from here? Kerry will take over as General Manager at Mountain River Processors. Ian’s advice for Kerry and Shane is: “good luck for the future. A lot of what we have achieved over the years is down to the hard work they have already done, so really it is just a matter of carrying on with the good work”. Ian and his wife Ngaire have purchased a home in a Retirement Village in Rolleston, and they are planning to spend the next winter on the Gold Coast of Australia for something different. Ian and Ngaire are classic examples of ‘don't leave home until you have seen your own country’, so they intend to explore parts of the North Island over in the next few years. Well done Ian, enjoy this next phase, you certainly deserve it!
A Trip Down Memory Lane for Ian Stewart’s Retirement content media
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Mountain River Venison
Sep 26, 2019
In Market News
There was a recent promotion of Mountain River product at the Glacier Hotel in Grindelwald, a village in Switzerland. This was organised by Jacques Beyeler of our import partner, CASIC. A number of Swiss chefs were offered up various samples of venison to try and to ultimately promote Mountain River as their new venison partner of choice. Jacques says that the promotion was very positive. They also appreciated the short and efficient time taken to do the promotion during the lunch and dinner rounds. During the promotion, the chefs tasted the petit tender as carpaccio just with salt directly from the cutting board, also the petit tender as tatiki, try-tip, and short-ribs round of knuckle. Shannon gave a lot of background information around the farming practices, cutting, sustainability and also had discussions concerning the co2 emissions - which is very important to the Swiss chefs. Overall it was a successful promotion and we’re looking forward to seeing the uptake of Mountain River Venison in Grindelwald and beyond!
Mountain River Promotion in Grindelwald content media
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Mountain River Venison

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