Would venison by any other name taste as sweet? That’s the question venison producers in New Zealand are asking themselves as they try to market their wares in Europe, where farmed venison is popular fare. According to an article from Radio New Zealand, venison farmers there are looking to use the name Cervena as a marketing tool in Germany and other European countries as a way to drum up flagging sales:

_”The deer industry is considering whether to have another go at marketing New Zealand venison in Europe under the name Cervena.__

It’s looking for a new approach to counter falling sales in its biggest export market, Germany, where New Zealand venison is under pressure from cheaper European venison coming from countries like Spain and Poland…

Deer Industry New Zealand director, Glenn Tyrell from Silver Fern Farms, says there was resistance in Europe where the focus has always been on selling venison as game, rather than farmed meat.

He says European importers did not want to highlight the fact it was a farmed product or that the flavour of the farmed product was possibly milder.”_

The name Cervena as applied to farmed venison has actually been around a couple of decades. Much like Kobe or Wagyu when applied to beef, the Cervena appellation is reserved for meat from red deer that have been raised under certain conditions, including allowing the deer to graze freely, restricting the use of growth hormones or steroids, and processing the animals in Cervena-certified facilities.

If you’ve ever eaten venison in an upscale restaurant in the U.S., there is a good chance is was Cervena. Chefs here, including Todd Gray of Washington D.C.’s Equinox restaurant, praise it for its full flavor, tenderness and healthy, drug-free properties.

I’d be interested in comparing farm-raised Cervena to hunter-harvested venison, though admittedly, red deer versus whitetail is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. Have any of you tried Cervena or other pen-raised venison, or do you only eat wild deer?