Week in Review

[22 April 2021]

With the opening of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble, the competition to secure skilled labour in the food and fibre sector increases.

This week we also see some grassroots farmer business stories, with producers moving themselves further along the value chain including an integrated dairy and egg business in Whakatane and a sheep wool brand in Hunterville. 

This week Jack Keeys is joined by KPMG Director Justine Fitzmaurice, who authored the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda ‘Voice of the Scientists and Educators’, as she shares her accumulated insights into the scientist of the future and what we might expect in the coming decades. 

Spotlight Stories

Dairy Spotlight


Dairy futures off to Singapore [16 April, Farmers Weekly]

NZX has signed an agreement with SGX, promising to delist their eight dairy derivatives and relist them in Singapore. NZX chief executive, Mark Peterson, said “by working together, we can leverage SGX’s global market connectivity, strong Asian presence and international distribution, to scale growth and liquidity in the trading of dairy derivatives”. This process is to take effect in the second half of this year, subject to regulatory approvals.

Tag: Dairy, Trade & Exports

Environment & Emissions Spotlight

spotlight 2

COVID-19 has ‘knocked’ green consumerism: Survey [19 April, Food Navigator]

Aviva, an insurance firm based in the UK has released information from a survey conducted by Censuswide Research. The research has indicated that people say they are more environmentally aware since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but also reveals this is not translating through to greener consumption behaviours. In 2019, 37% of people reported eating local and seasonal produce to reduce food miles. This figure had fallen to 25% by February 2021. Single-use plastics, which 61% of people had avoided pre-COVID had now fallen to 36% in February 2021.

Tag: Food Marketing, International

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

Food is Gen Z's top spending priority, survey finds [14 April, Food Dive]

A semi-annual report and survey from Piper Sandler have revealed that Gen Z’s top spending priority, taking 23% share of their wallet is food. This has increased from 21% in fall 2020 but down from 25% a year ago. According to the survey, 54% of teens preferred healthy snacks, however only 3% reported fruits, vegetables and nuts as a favourite snack item. 49% of respondents were consuming or were willing to try plant-based meat. Food also has the greatest share of spending among upper-income male teens age 13 to 19, according to the survey.

Tag: Food Marketing, International

headline 2

Bayer enhances its carbon program [19 April, Farm Progress]

Bayer, the German based multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company is adapting its carbon sequestration program to include early adopters of soil health practices. The expansion also includes further reach to 8 more states in the United States. The program offers growers up to $9 per acre, per year for implementation of sustainable farming practices. Farmers can earn up to $3 per acre, per year for no-till/strip-till practices, $6 an acre/year for cover crops and $9 an acre/ year for both. The program focuses on a farmer-centric approach by offering a rewards system which promotes simplicity, certainty and flexibility for how they produce food.

Tag: Agribusiness, International


Airfares, accommodation and $32 an hour: Australian farmers lure Kiwi workers [19 April, NZ Herald]

As the quarantine-free travel bubble opens, recruiters in Australia are now stepping up their advertising campaigns – offering significant incentives to attract New Zealanders to aid in the shortfall of labour within the Australian agricultural industry. Agri-Labour Australia Managing Director, Casey Brown said that “Now the trans-Tasman bubble is open it will be interesting to see how many applications we receive, we are expecting a lot more,” According to the article, one farm in Western Australia has requested a tractor operator for the seeding season, offering free airfares, accommodation, food and a wage of $32.50 an hour.

Tag: Farmers & Producers, Covid-19

Top stories

Farmer privacy in question [16 April, Farmers Weekly]

Industry leaders fear that the potential public release of individual farm environment plans could expose commercial information which may be misused by activists or criminals. This causes potential risks to the health and safety of farming families. Federated Farmers president, Andrew Hoggard, is meeting with the Privacy Commissioner and Ombudsman to determine the scope of detail protection. “Farms are our homes and it would be very concerning to have activists turn up at our homes,” Hoggard said.

Tag: Farmers & Producers, Policy and regulation

Alliance Group extends beef processing [16 April, Rural News Group]

After 18 months of development, the Alliance Group reopened their modern venison plant in Lorneville Southland and have begun processing cows and light bulls. Chief executive of Alliance Group, David Surveyor, says the project was a key part of the co-operative’s beef growth strategy and in direct response to farmer demand. Alliance Group is Southland’s largest employer and the Lorneville plant alone has almost 2,000 people in on-site at peak capacity.

Tag: Red Meat

Political Roundup – Government's ban on live animal exports [17 April, NZ Herald]

The Government has confirmed plans to ban live animal exports from 2023, the result following years of pressure from lobby groups and animal activists. A significant push was received last year after the Gulf Livestock 1 ship left New Zealand and sunk in a storm, killing nearly 6000 cows and 41 sea crew. The ban was praised by many, however, spokesperson, Mark Cameron, argued that "this ban won't improve animal welfare because live exports from New Zealand will be replaced by exports from other countries with lower animal welfare standards."

Tag: Policy and Regulation, Trade & Exports

Barbara Kuriger on why she's wearing 'rural business attire' in Parliament [15 April, NZ Herald]

Taranaki-King Country MP, Barbara Kuriger, arrived at Parliament in rural business attire to support young people pursuing agriculture careers. The Speaker of the House gave Kuriger permission, and a few colleagues from across the political divide also wore their gumboots. Kuriger also aimed to highlight the New Zealand Rural Games Trust's $15,000 scholarship where it supported struggling youth into agri-tertiary study and young rural sports athletes.

Tag: Agribusiness Education, Policy and Regulation 

Turing AI: ‘We can help develop a product in an eighth of the time, minimum’ [16 April, Food Navigator

Food tech start-up,Turing AI, is stated to address the “data trap” with a single, integrated, learning system for faster and more effective product development. Turing AI founder, Manmit Shrimali, said “the food industry is trapped in a 120-year-old trial and error approach… a stage process. Turing addresses the entire workflow for product innovation and renovation”. Turing AI has developed an integrated, holistic process that looks at everything from prototyping to consumer acceptance.

Tag: International

Six ‘critical’ innovation areas identified by European agri-food initiative [16 April, Food Navigator]

A new seed fund will offer up to EU€30million on investments for European agri-food-tech startups to work towards innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems in food production, supply and sustainability. The companies to receive investments are all to be domiciled in Europe or Israel, have protectable and scalable technology and align with EIT Food’s mission of making the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted. The start-ups will also be given access to advice and mentoring.

Tag: Food Innovation, International

Forest free range farm opening today [15 April, Rural News Group]

A leading forest free-range farm aims to pioneer sustainable egg production in New Zealand with a 139-hectare property in the Southern Waikato region. Over the next five years it aims to develop a home of 320,000 laying hens in a forest of 90,000 native and exotic trees with eight laying sheds. The site will produce eggs under the Hedyen Farms Free Range brand for egg producer and supplier, Better Eggs Limited.

Tag: Agriculture

Winter colony loss rates climb [15 April, Farmers Weekly]

Recent survey data shows a continuance in the trend of beehive loss over the past five years as the winter colony loss rates in New Zealand have increased by 10% in 2020, harming 11% of hives. Apiculture New Zealand Science and Research Focus Group chair, Barry Foster, says the rate remains below other countries with an international average of 17%, across participating countries. However, the industry seeks to find further understanding on the cause of afflictions to the queen bee populations.

Tag: Apiculture

China dominates meat exports [21 April, Rural News Group]

Analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA) shows that New Zealand’s red meat exports are increasing, reaching NZ$906.7 million in February 2021. However, there are major shifts in the destination for products with exports to China increasing by 124% year-on-year and decreases experienced for most other markets. MIA chief executive, Sirma Karapeeve, said that these results were partly supply-driven, with high numbers of steer and heifers sent for processing in early February, coupled with the continued demand from China.

Tag: Red Meat, Trade & Exports

A different egg-perience [19 April, Farmers Weekly]

Tina Armstrong, a Whakatane dairy farmer has launched a new business venture that combines poultry and dairy farming systems, called ‘Circular Eggs’. Circular Eggs is a subscription egg purchase and food waste collection service which began with 50-60 chickens, selling to neighbours and eventually expanded to 400 chickens. According to Tina Armstrong, “In New Zealand, 12% of food is sent to landfill”, Circular Eggs utilises a small part of that waste as part of their protein source, produced through a composting process.

Tag: Dairy, Farming Systems

Corona debuts circular packaging made from barley straw [18 March, Food Dive]

Owners of beer brand ‘Corona’ AB InBev recently unveiled new sustainable packing which upcycles barley straw for use in their six-pack line of beer. According to a press release, it is releasing the packaging across 10,000 six-packs in Colombia during March. The technology was developed in-house at the AB InBev's Global Innovation and Technology Centre (GITEC), across three years. The process of creating the packaging utilises 90% less water, less energy and fewer harsh chemicals than the traditional process for virgin wood, according to the company.

Tag: Research & Development, Environment & Emission

Sustainable wool research programme backed by government [20 April, NZ Herald]

Carpet company Bremworth, a subsidiary of Cavalier Corporation Limited has launched a three-year, $4.9 million dollar research and development programme on alternatives to the remaining synthetic components of woollen carpets. This work has been aided with the support from The Ministry for Primary Industries, contributing $1.9 million from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFFF). Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said, "We believe this programme will spur demand for New Zealand strong wool and enhance our manufacturing competitiveness through strong environmental credentials that challenge industry norms."

Tag: Research & Development

Farming couple support wool industry with 'Honest Wolf' brand [19 April, NZ Herald]

Sophie and Sam Hurley, sheep farmers in the Turakina Valley recently launched Honest Wolf, a line of accessories made with wool from their family farm, Papanui State. The range of products now includes overnight bags, shopping and tote bags, caps, wallets, laptop sleeves and even woollen dog leads and collars. The venture was encouraged by the low returns from wool and the need for farm income diversification. As for the name Honest Wolf, ‘Honest’ represents using honest materials, grown sustainably. ‘Wolf’ stems from wanting to be the leader of the pack.

Tag: Farmers & Producers

No land - no food! [20 April, Rural News Group]

A recent report by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ ‘Land use change and Intensification’ has identified two key drivers of land use change in New Zealand. According to the report, land availability and soil quality have been identified as drivers which will influence New Zealand’s ability to grow food in the expected volumes and quality according to Secretary of the Environment Vicky Robertson. Along with these drivers are the impacts of population growth in New Zealand. According to the report, in just under 20 years the area of highly productive land that has been lost to housing will have increased by 54%. Climate change is also an important consideration, with some crops needing to move location to cope with adjusting climates, while plant breeders develop new varieties that are better suited to warmer conditions.

Tag: Policy and Regulation, Environment & Emission

 New Sealed Air shrink packaging designed for circular economy [19 April, Food Navigator]

Sealed Air, a packaging company based in North Carolina has developed a shrink-packaging solution designed for recycling to support food companies moving towards a circular economy. According to the article, the product is the world’s first RIC4 coded heat-sealable food packaging material, meaning that it can be 100% recyclable. The range is stated to be able to reduce packaging material usage and overall carbon footprint by up to 60%, compared to widely used thermoforming packaging systems.

Tag: Research & Development, International

 Sheep's milk blazing new trails in export and animal welfare [18 April, Stuff New Zealand]

Fernglen Farms, based on Masterton’s east coast produces flavoured, high protein sheep’s milk. The family business branched out into sheep dairy production, with the first shipment of their Fernglen Farm branded ready-to-drink products heading to Singapore in late May. According to Cameron Ravenwood the youngest son and spearhead of the transition, Fernglen Farms will be the only ones exporting a fresh sheep milk in ‘retail-ready’ form. The farm also became the first of its kind to be accredited with an SPCA animal welfare certification.

Tag: Farmers & Producers, Food Marketing 

Opportunities coming for land stewardship, says Vilsack [16 April, Successful Farming]

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is believed to be days away from announcing “greater opportunities” for landowners to take fragile farmland out of production in exchange for an annual payment, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The mechanism is known as The Conservation Reserve which was created in 1985 to combat environmental impacts of farming. Landowners are paid an annual rent if they agree to idle environmentally fragile land for 10-15 years, costing $1.8 billion this fiscal year. “The president has committed to a 30×30 effort: 30% of our working lands and public lands being dedicated in some form or fashion to conservation [by 2030]” says Vilsack.

Tag: Policy & Regulation, International

Hemp growing opportunity for SI farmers [20 April, Farmers Weekly]

The former Mataura paper mill in Southland has recently been converted and repurposed for the milling of an expected 500 hectares of hemp production in the region over the next 10 years. The initial fit-out of indoor grow rooms is complete, with the first therapeutic hemp CBD seedlings growing on site. The venture is a partnership between Natural Horticulture Limited and Dunedin-based medicinal cannabis company SOMA Group. According to the article, the potential return of hemp in the region is $50,000 a hectare from 500 kilograms a hectare yield at $100/kg.

Tag: Agribusiness, Farming Systems

What is the ‘next big thing’ in the UK plant-based scene? [19 April, Food Navigator]

Plant-based milk has had considerable success in the UK market, with the market being valued at $320.6 million in 2019. In Europe, the UK accounts for 15% of all plant-based milk alternative sales, according to Grand View Research. Among other plant-based options is egg free fresh pasta, deep dish pizza, pea and coconut alternatives to cheesecake.

Tag: Alternative Proteins, International

Exciting space for cattle [19 April, Farmers Weekly]

A collaboration between dairy genetic giants LIC and CRV has advanced the possibility of New Zealand farmers being able to purchase genetics for low-methane-emitting cattle. The pilot trials involved measuring methane and carbon dioxide of the high-use LIC and CRV bulls 100 times per bull across 28 days. Next year the emissions of the bull’s progeny will be tested in Portable Accumulation Chambers, with further testing in 2024 to determine  whether the progeny are high or low-methane emitters. It is expected that farmers should be able to purchase semen to breed low-methane animals from 2025.

Tag: Research & Development, Environment & Emission

Get in touch

Audit – Auckland
Ian Proudfoot
09 367 5882
Management Consulting – Wellington
Justine Fitzmaurice
04 816 4845
Agri-Food – Auckland
Jack Keeys

09 363 3502
Private Enterprise – Hamilton
Hamish McDonald 

07 858 6519
Agri-Food – Auckland
Andrew Watene

09 367 5969
Consultant – South Island
Genevieve Steven

03 307 0761

Farm Enterprise – South Island
Brent Love

03 683 1871

Field Notes Administrator
Angelo Marundan
+64 9363 3624