Possum meat has become increasingly popular among Kiwi dog owners, recording a significant growth for Fond Foods’ Possyum.
Different to the protected opossums found in Australia, possums in New Zealand are considered pests causing extensive damage to native bush and birdlife, costing New Zealand farmers about $35 million every year in damaged crops. There are approximately 30 million possums in the country today, according to Predator Free NZ Trust.
Producing dog food from possum meat creates more jobs for locals and helps reduce the pest population.
Possum meat consumption by pets in the country last year reached 100,000kg in the form of dog rolls and dried treats. New Zealand’s largest possum meat dog-food producer Fond Foods said it has now used 500,000kg of possum meat in its products since 2010. Its products are sold in supermarkets including New World, Pak ‘n Save and Countdown.
“A lot of the demand has come from urban dog owners who are keenly interested in the health and nutritional benefits of their animal’s food,” says Clint Bolderston, GM of Fond Foods. “Possum meat dog food was almost unheard of when we first began producing it but it has helped to create a real point of difference and Possyum now makes up 20 per cent of our domestic dog roll sales.”
South Island trapper Joel Compton says growing demand for possum meat has helped him to launch a business and created new jobs.
“I was trapping part time for years but … it is just unreal now,” Joel said. “In the past year I’ve turned trapping it into a full-time business and I’ve employed two part time staff to help out.”
“The possums are just never ending and we’re only just able to keep up with demand. We’re in the bush by 10am and working long days clearing tracks, processing and plucking.”