Cervena venison is part of the New Zealand story and is celebrated by discerning chefs around the world for its taste, texture and versatility. Cervena is the ideal meat from which a chef can freely create beautiful and inspired dishes. Cervena, Pure Freedom. Back in 1991 a group of visionary farmers saw the potential to brand quality New Zealand farm-raised venison.


Their vision was clear – as the Champagne appellation immediately conveys the image of quality sparkling wine from the Northwest region of France – their appellation would come to convey premium pasture-raised venison from New Zealand. They named this appellation Cervena. Fast forward to today, and a handful of specialized venison marketing companies in New Zealand are licensed to use the Cervena appellation.

To qualify as Cervena, the animals must be 3 years and under, have access to pasture all year round, and come from farms that are compliant with the industry quality assurance standards. To ensure consistency and quality, Cervena must be processed to industry-agreed standards.


The name Cervena combines traditional venison terms with current usage. ‘Cer’ comes from Cervidae, the Latinword for deer. ‘Ven’ from Venison takes its name from the Latin origins for ‘hunting’, but over time has evolved to mean deer meat in general. The ‘a’ stands for A grade or premium quality. (cer) vidae + (ven)ison + a = cervena [pronounced sir-venn-ah]


Venison processing companies and their farmer suppliers work in partnership with international customers to produce quality products to high environmental standards.


New Zealand venison is produced in a natural, sustainable manner. New Zealand deer farmers have always aspired to sustainable land management via industry-wide programs to avoid potential negative impacts on the environment. New Zealand is blessed with ample rain and vast open pastures. Farming is a natural use for the landscape, and New Zealanders have been growing livestock and crops for 150 years, with little damage to the soil or water. In New Zealand, the natural fertility of the soils, the begin climate, and the extensive use of nitrogen-fixing clovers in pastures provide much of the goodness necessary to grow pasture to feed farmed deer.

New Zealand farmers use small amounts of nitrogen fertilizers to improve pasture fertility, control non-native weeds, and ensure good animal health.


New Zealand deer farmers believe they have a duty to avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects that their activities may have on the environment. When producing food, farming impacts the environment in several ways such as soil erosion, water use, and degraded water quality. The New Zealand deer farming industry has an active program in place to ameliorate these negative impacts by educating farmers and recognizing success in minimizing environmental impact.


To qualify as Cervena natural tender venison, the animal must be raised naturally without hormones or steroids on the fresh open pastures of New Zealand and be three years old or younger. We have scientifically proven that young deer produce the tenderest venison. All deer in New Zealand are individually identified to provide traceability back to the farm they originated from, ensuring that all products carrying the Cervena mark are guaranteed to be from deer under three years old.


Animal welfare is key to achieving the highest quality products (including Cervena venison), as well as sustainable land management. Cervena deer are never housed in New Zealand, they are never kept in feedlots or confined spaces.

A large percentage of NZ deer farms are registered with the Deer Quality Assurance program. The goals of the program are to manage the health and welfare of the animals and handlers, and assure quality products. Accredited farmers are audited to assure that farm practices are in place to meet these goals. Cervena marketing companies in New Zealand are working towards on-farm assurance programs that monitor animal health and welfare and the environmental impact of farming operations.


Most deer are farmed in mountainous regions with vast fields stretching over hundreds of acres. They live primarily on grass and hay.


The issues of eating local and measuring your “food miles” when doing your weekly shopping are important and complex. While many assume that the further a food travels from field to fork, the more energy it consumes,  the equation is actually much more complicated than that. Would you be surprised to learn that the means of production and the method of travel to market have a far greater impact on a product’s energy consumption and carbon footprint than the distance it travels to market?


Numerous studies have demonstrated that it is more energy efficient to grow food in New Zealand and transport it to market by containerized sea freight than it is to grow food in the market in a less efficient manner.

For example, a study examining lamb-meat production in New Zealand and the United Kingdom found that producing lamb in New Zealand and shipping to the UK produced one-quarter of the carbon dioxide of producing lamb in normal intensive conditions in the UK. The shipping of New Zealand lamb to the UK contributed only 18% of the total CO2 emissions.


The fact is that shipping accounts for a very small percentage of the total energy used in delivering food to consumers. Virtually all New Zealand venison is shipped by sea freight, the most efficient means of transporting goods around the world. New Zealand Venison is also fed a 100% grass-based diet, as opposed to a corn-based diet, which drastically increases the carbon footprint of any meat.


We take the same care in processing Cervena that our farmers take in raising the deer. This starts when the deer leave the farm gate. Of the transport companies that move animals from the farms to the processors, 98% are accredited to the Deer Quality Assurance program. Drivers are trained and are responsible for the safety and welfare of the deer, and ensure that all required health documentation is available.


Cervena venison must be processed according to internationally recognized quality standards. Our processing facilities are regularly audited by both government and independent auditors to ensure that standards for producing and presenting Cervena are met. These standards were developed by the deer industry and are based on research that has established the processing regime to produce tender and delicious meat.

These standards include all parts of plant operations to achieve food safety and optimum product quality.

Cervena is vacuum-packed after being aged for a short time. It is exported from New Zealand by sea freight either chilled or frozen, depending on our customer’s preference. Because of the extremely hygienic conditions in New Zealand processing facilities, chilled Cervena venison has a commercial shelf life of up to 14 weeks when kept under optimal conditions. This provides adequate time for export to markets around the world by refrigerated sea freight. Chilled venison continues to age in the vacuum pack, guaranteeing perfectly tender venison on arrival, and gives chefs a further six to eight weeks of shelf life for additional flexibility. Frozen venison will be aged before it is blast frozen in New Zealand. Slow thawing provides excellent eating quality.

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