EDMONTON, Alta. — Elk antler prices are expected to rise almost 20 percent and reach some of their highest prices in years, said the head of an elk co-op focused on selling antler.
“We’ve got reason for optimism from a long hard downturn,” said Blaine Weber, with Norelkco.
Elk producers can expect $50 a pound for elk antler, up from $40/lb. last year, said Weber, of Lanigan, Sask.
The premium antler regrowth and spikers from early cut bulls will possible reach $65/pound, Weber told the Alberta Elk Commission members.
“If you have good spikers there is definitely money in it,” said Weber.
For the elk producers who have toughed out antler prices as low as $10 a pound, the higher prices are a welcome relief to the industry.
At its peak there were roughly 85,000 elk in Canada. There are now estimated to be about 20,000 elk left and Weber is hoping higher prices for meat, hunt farm bulls and antlers will entice more people back into the industry.
Norelkco was formed as a new generation co-op in 2004 at the bottom of the elk antler market by a group of producers to add value to antler by developing pet products.
Since then they have switched to becoming a seller for Canadian elk antler and have sold more than $5 million of antler to Hong Kong to seven different buyers.
“We have no alliances to any buyer. We don’t do it on profit. We do it to keep the prices up.”
Last year the lowest price Norelkco paid for green antler was $40/lb. for ungraded antler.
“If you are anxious to get rid of your antler early and are anxious about watching your freezers, want it off the farm and want a truck to pick it up, you probably won’t get the highest price you could,” he told the group.
“If you are willing to take some of the risk, hold it and go through the grading process as it evolves, you may win, you may lose.”
The graded antler allows the co-op to split the shipments of elk antler into premium products and receive more money.
Weber said there are rumours the antler crop from New Zealand, Canada’s largest antler competition, has been sold and its producers paid, but the antler are still sitting in storage waiting for resell.
“But that is what they tell us every year. It is hard to verify it. Once it hits Hong Kong, who knows where it goes.”
Early discussions with previous buyers are positive, he said.
“I wait for people who bought from us before. They are back to us earlier than ever.”