TRAVERSE CITY – Venison’s rising popularity as table fare has a northern Michigan company on the hunt for the perfect niche business.
Michigan Venison Company, founded in 2009, accepts white-tailed deer from deer ranchers throughout Michigan, then processes the meat in Grand Traverse County at a facility licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The resulting cuts of meats and other specialty products are sold online.
President Kate Lane said the Traverse City-based business witnessed steady growth every year since its founding and processed nearly 4,000 pounds of deer meat in 2013.
“We are one of the only companies doing what we are doing that I know of,” Lane said. “There are places where you can buy venison online, but a lot of it is brought in from New Zealand, like red deer. It’s not all-American white-tailed.
“We are shipping a lot to places like Connecticut, Florida and Texas,” she said. “The more people find out about us the more they want it sent to them. They don’t have the opportunity to go hunting themselves and they don’t know anyone who is a hunter.”
The company also offers venison cooking classes and is participating in local events like the Microbrew & Music Festival and a recent wild game dinner at the Boathouse restaurant.
“What we do is trying to have an educational component to cooking with venison,” Lane said. “Our whole mission is to make venison more mainstream.”
“A lot of our customers are people who want to experiment with meat, those who consider it an exotic meat even though we are talking about the most native meat,” she said. “A lot of it goes to foodies who want to use it for special occasions for holidays, anniversaries, things like that. Its also for hunters who didn’t have any luck this year.”
More information about the company is available at www.michiganvenison.com.