Surprisingly, the growing appetite Kiwi dogs have for possum meat is helping not only to create more jobs but is putting a dent in New Zealand’s pest population.
New Zealand’s largest possum meat dog food producer, Fond Foods, has seen growing demand for Possyum double since 2017 and has recently hit a milestone of 500,000kg of possum meat used in its possum meat products since 2010. Starting out at home in rural areas with working dogs, Possyum now see’s most of its growth coming from urban areas, with expansion into New World, Pak N Save and Countown supermarkets across the country.
General manager of Fond Foods Clint Bolderston, says much of the demand for Possyum has come from urban dog owners who are interested in the health and nutritional benefit of their animal’s food.
“Possum meat is high in Omega 3 and 6 and can assist with skin, coat, and joint health. This makes our Possyum roll a premium product, with still an excellent per feed cost.
“We’re a relatively small New Zealand owned company and we are often up against large and multinational competitors. 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.”
Due to the growing demand for Possyum, Fond Food has decided to expand its factory in Paeroa. The expansion will allow for an increase in the production of Possyum dog rolls and greater capacity for the production of dried treats, which have also become increasingly popular among New Zealand’s discerning urban dog population.
South Island possum trapper Joel Compton says the growing demand for possum meat has helped him launch a business and create new jobs. Compton traps between 250-400 possums a week in foresets, earning up to $12 per carcass.
“I was trapping part time for years but pet-food wise, it’s just unreal now. In the past year, I’ve turned trapping into a full-time business and I’ve employed two part-time staff to help out,” says Compton.
Predator Free NZ Trust says there are around 30 million possums in New Zealand. As they do significant damage to native bush and birdlife and cost Kiwi farmers around $35 million a year in damaged crops, Possyum dog meat has never sounded more appealing.