Week in Review

[13 May 2021]

This week we see a range of stories across New Zealand and the world, from a Belgium farmer who accidentally moved the country’s border with France, Italy’s investment in it’s own ‘Silicon Valley of Agriculture’ and the New Zealand bull that reaches retirement after fathering over 170,000 offspring across the globe. 

Article of the Week

This week Andrew Watene discusses recent international proposals for cross-border carbon taxes on imported products, and whether these are truly based on climate, or on geopolitics. 

Read the full article here

Spotlight Stories

Food Security Spotlight


155 million faced acute food insecurity in 2020, conflict the key driver [5 May, UN News]       

According to the Global Network Against Food Crises, it has been five years since hunger levels reached this level of concern across 55 countries as 20 million more people suffered from hunger in 2020 compared to 2019. The worst-affected countries were Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen. Across these countries, around 133,000 people were at IPC5 (the highest level of need) and required immediate action “to avert widespread death and a collapse of livelihoods”, the Network’s report said.

Tag: International, Food Security

Honours & Awards Spotlight

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Nutrition Scientist Dr. Shakuntala Thilsted Awarded The 2021 World Food Prize [12 May, Scoop World]

WorldFish scientist Dr. Shakuntala Thilsted was named the 2021 World Food Prize Laureate for improving the quality, quantity, and availability of food in the world thanks to her pioneering scientific work on nutrition, fish, and aquatic foods systems. Thilsted improved the diets, nutrition, and health of millions of vulnerable women, men, and children living in low and middle income countries across Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. She accomplished this by being the first to examine the nutritional composition of small native fish species commonly found and consumed in Bangladesh and Cambodia.

Tag: International, Fisheries, Aquaculture

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

Emerging Protein report calls for coordinated approach [6 May, Farmers Weekly]

According to FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson, emerging plant proteins are an opportunity for New Zealand’s traditional animal-based protein sectors to diversify their food product offerings. Thompson says there is evidence of increased sales of plant-based foods since Covid-19. Recent surveys in NZ have indicated more than 30% of consumers are changing their eating patterns in response to health and environmental concerns. US retail sales last month showed sales of plant-based foods which replace animal products increased by 27% in the past year to US$7 billion.

Tag: Alternative Proteins, Research & Development, Agribusiness

headline 2

World food price index climbs in April, highest since mid-2014 -FAO [6 May, Reuters]

According to the United Nations food agency, world food prices increased for the 11th consecutive month in April 2021, hitting their highest level since May 2014, with sugar leading the rise in all the main indices. The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s food price index of cereal, vegetable oil, diary, meat and sugar all increased by 1.2%, 1.8%, 1.2%, 1.7% and 3% respectively, which averaged at 120.9 points last month versus a revised 118.9 in March 2021.

Tag: International, Food Security


Fonterra unveils new capital structure options, shareholders' fund could go [6 May, NZ Herald]

Following a review of Fonterra Cooperative’s capital structure, Fonterra Co-operative directors are proposing an easier entry for farmers to the Co-operative.  This will either end or cap the buy-back of the listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund to protect farmer ownership and control. Chairman Peter McBride said, "our Co-op's financial performance will always be the main determinant of our share of New Zealand milk. But we also know that a more flexible capital structure, that caters for the diversity and different aspirations within our Co-op, would support a sustainable future milk supply.”

Tag: Dairy, Farmers & Producers

Top stories

Primary sector exports defy challenges [6 May, Rural News Group]

According to BNZ's latest Rural Wrap, New Zealand primary sector exports have been resilient to the massive global economic shock and pushed through labour shortages and logistic challenges over the past 12 months. BNZ senior economist, Doug Steel, says “the sector, by and large, has found ways to minimise disruption, switch markets, and alter sales channels to continue trading as best as possible." Exports for wine, apples and kiwifruit have increased by 4%, 6% and 18% respectively, and sheep and beef exports decreased by 3% and 2% respectively.

Tag: Trade & Exports, Agribusiness, Covid-19

Nadine Tunley takes top hort role [5 May, Farmers Weekly]

According to HortNZ president Barry O’Neil, the new HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley will help lead HortNZ into new territory by adapting to Covid-19 as well as the changes of operations due to climate adaption, freshwater quality improvements, and increased use of technology and automation. Tunley has experience in the wider food and fibre sector and has also worked collaboratively with the industry bodies, product groups and district associations making up the horticulture sector.

Tag: Horticulture

Taurua District could grow blueberries, hazelnuts, apples and feijoas – study [6 May, NZ Herald]

A new study for alternative land use in the Tararua District shows blueberries, hazelnuts, cider apples and feijoas could successfully grow based on the conditions in each area. The study sparks a unique opportunity for farmers to diversify their land. However, there are issues concerning no local processing facilities, a lack of harvesting resources and limited expertise in the Taraua District. The report found most of the land area should be able to support at least one of the proposed land use options with “slight to moderate soil modification.”

Tag: Farming Systems, Research & Development

'Special' bull that fathered over 170k offspring enters hall of fame [6 May, One News]

“Beamer” the Holstein-Friesian bull, was born in 2010 and has been inducted into an elite animal hall of fame by fathering more than 170,000 dairy cows. “He has also sired more than 92 sons and 54 grandsons who are now following in his footsteps and achieving tremendous success” says LIC spokesperson Simon Worth. Beamer has children as far away as Ireland and South America and he has now retired and spends his time relaxing in a paddock.

Tag: Dairy, Agribusiness, Farmers & Producers, Farming Systems

Belgian farmer accidentally moves French border, Napoleonic reckoning [6 May, NZ Herald]

A Belgian farmer has unintentionally moved international borders after moving an ancient boundary stone between Belgium and France which sat in the way of his tractor. Local authorities have contacted the farmer to return the stone and he is likely to be let off with a warning without facing any repercussions. The boundary stone itself dates back to 1919, where it had stood undisturbed for two centuries until this week.

Tag: International, Farmers & Producers

Climate change could affect Marlborough's grape flavours [10 May, Stuff]

A new report has found that global warming will mean fewer frosts in Marlborough which may affect the region’s sauvignon blanc. Bragato Research Institute viticultural extension and research manager Len Ibbotson said the wine industry has already started adapting to warmer seasons by using tools to harvest earlier and blend with subregions planted in cooler climates. The report projected average maximum temperatures to increase up to 3°c Celsius by 2090 and it is expected that frosts are to continue to decrease and there could be more extreme, rare rainfall events.

Tag: Viticulture, Environment & Emissions

NZ and UK agree to lift the pace of free trade talks [5 May, Voxy]

Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor announced that New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed to increase the pace of free trade talks to progress the framework and its supportive, sustainable and inclusive trade. The next round for further negotiations is scheduled for early June and July this year. A free trade agreement with the UK will provide increased opportunities for New Zealanders to access the UK market and will contribute to New Zealand’s COVID-19 trade recovery strategy.

Tag: Trade & Exports, Policy and Regulation

Sheep numbers plummet by 800,000 in a year [8 May, Stuff]

New data shows that New Zealand’s sheep numbers have dropped by 800,000 hitting 26 million in 2020 due to widespread drought conditions and feed shortages. Despite the issues in 2020, the national flock has been dropping for almost 40 years – with a decrease of 6.5 million sheep over the past 10 years. The value of sheep-meat exports is increasing, reaching $4 billion in June 2020, however the export value of wool continues to decrease. In 2012, wool exports were worth NZ$880 million which fell to almost half in 2020 at NZ$460 billion.

Tag: Farming Systems, Wool, Farmers & Producers, Red Meat

Next level for blueberries [6 May, Rural News Group]

The Furniss family is partnering with local companies to launch crafted blueberry foods and beverages to add to their Bluesbros brand launch that happened last year. The brand’s products currently include chutney sweet sauce, balsamic drizzle and a blueberry and strawberry jam. Blueberry Country chief executive Jerem Wylie says more products are on the way to diversify their offerings and develop new markets both locally and offshore. Wylie adds that blueberries are referred to as a super food so they want consumers to enjoy blueberries “outside the traditional fresh and frozen whole fruit options.”

Tag: Food Marketing, Food Innovation, Horticulture

New Food Technology Brings Vegetables Centre Stage [6 May, Scoop Business]

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investing NZ$147,000 into the nation’s plant-based food sector to help introduce a diverse range of new processed vegetable products. A two-year project led by Food Nation, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushrooms, grains and vegetables.  “We’re aiming our products at the ‘reduce-a-tarians’ market – including vegans and vegetarians as much as anyone who wants to eat less meat, but still want something substantial that tastes amazing,” says Miranda Burdon, co-founder of Food Nation.

Tag: Horticulture, Alternative Proteins, Food Marketing, Food Innovation 

A2 Milk shares slump after fourth cut to guidance on weak daigou trading [10 May, Stuff]

Shares in the a2 Milk Company dropped to their lowest level in more than three years at NZ$6.05 per share due to a disruption of sales to China as a result of the pandemic. A2 milk expects to write down between NZ$80 million to NZ$90 million of their stock due to the decrease in daigou trade. They plan on increasing their marketing in China to help lift sales as well as increase wholesale prices across their English label infant nutrition product range to restore its premium price position.

Tag: Dairy, Trade & Exports

Fonterra fund’s sluggish performance [10 May, Farmers Weekly]

Fonterra Co-operative is consulting with farmers over proposed changes to its capital structure which could either see the size of the shareholder fund capped or see it wound up completely. The Co-operative peaked at NZ$8.09 in March 2013 but then took a hit the following year due to the whey protein recall. It slowly bounced back to NZ$6.05 by 2018 however, lost half of its value in the next 18 months as a result of new leadership rejecting the strategy of the previous board. Since then, the price has slowly recovered and currently sits at around NZ$4.60.

Tag: Dairy, Agribusiness

Red meat exports hits $1b – again [10 May, Farmers Weekly]

According to the Meat Industry Association (MIA), New Zealand exported NZ$1 billion worth of red meat and co-products in one month for the second time in history, during March 2021. MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says, “the March 2021 month’s NZ$1.04 billion export earnings confirm the strong global demand for safe, quality red meat. It also suggests that some of the initial covid-19-related disruptions are starting to resolve as countries get on top of the virus.” China was the major destination for NZ red meat taking 45% of total exports worth NZ$464 million.

Tag: Red Meat, Trade & Exports

Covid 19 coronavirus: Horticulture industry, union welcome Government's RSE MIQ announcement [10 May, NZ Herald]

The Government announced that 500 spaces in managed isolation for a fortnight will be allocated over the next 10 months to specific groups based on demand – the majority for skilled and critical workers. The New Zealand horticulture industry welcomed the move to increase Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers as there are normally around 14,400 RSE workers a year, however, this workforce has been cut in half as a result of the pandemic and border restrictions. Over the past decade, the industry has grown 64% up to $6.49 billion.

Tag: Horticulture

2020 ‘a record year for plant-based, cultivated meat and sustainable protein companies’ [11 May, Food Navigator]

Good Food Institute recently released its annual State of the Industry reports covering the plant-based, cellular agriculture and fermentation sectors. Last year they were reportedly the biggest to date for sustainable protein company launches, private investments, and retail sales. The report states that Western Europe is now the largest regional market for plant-based meat at US$1.8 billion, making up 43% of the global plant-based meat market. Additionally, global retail sales of plant-based meat hit record highs in 2020, reaching US$ 4.2 billion, up from US$3.4 billion in 2019.

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins

Italy sets up its own Silicon Valley of agriculture [7 May, Innovation Origins]

A group of agricultural tech companies and a university in Italy are about to start developing targeted green innovations in agriculture and set up their own “Silicon Valley of agriculture”. Their aim is to develop and test the latest agricultural innovations which include sensors for local irrigation, agricultural drones, digitalization of wine cellars and more sustainable chemical products. The latest agricultural innovations will be developed and tested in the “agrihub” and the estate will also serve as a training centre for innovation.

Tag: International, Food Innovations, Agritech

Golden glow in Zespri licence round [7 May, Farmers Weekly]

Intending Zespri SunGold kiwifruit growers have proven they are prepared to stump up over NZ$500,000 a hectare to secure a licence to grow the high-value fruit. Zespri’s chief innovation and sustainability officer Carol Ward says growers were demonstrating a high level of confidence in the fruit, with tenders including about 200ha of vines to be grafted from Green to SunGold, and 400ha of new orchard plantings. The licence income for 2021 is estimated to be between NZ$430 million and NZ$435 million, compared to last year’s NZ$305 million.

Tag: Horticulture, Farmers & Producers

RWNZ appoints new chief executive [11 May, Farmers Weekly]

Rural Women New Zealand Ngā Wahine Taiwhenua o Aotearoa (RWNZ) has appointed Gabrielle O’Brien as its new chief executive. According to RWNZ president Gill Naylor, O’Brien’s experience in her previous managerial roles in membership-based organisations, combined with her background in HR management, facilitation and organisation development, provide her with a strong background to lead the team through the next phase of development. O’Brien says she looks forward to developing the strong legacy of RWNZ and provide the best possible platform for rural women to raise and progress issues that are important to them.

Tag: Agribusiness

Bremworth turns its back on synthetics [11 May, Farmers Weekly]

Primary Industries Minister Damien O’Connor visited and toured Bremworth’s head office and plant to mark the occasion of them ceasing to manufacture synthetic carpets and transition into producing wool carpets. O’Connor welcomed the new strategy and said other NZ primary sector companies should follow the Bremworth lead as “it’s beyond moving from volume to just value, but further into values focused on sustainability and climate change.” An average NZ house laid with synthetic carpets is estimated to have the equivalent weight of 22,000 plastic shopping bags on its floor.

Tag: Wool

New scholarships to encourage more people into forestry career [10 May, Voxy]

Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service has announced three new forestry scholarships (to start in 2022) which are being offered through Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. The scholarships hope to encourage more women and Māori to pursue a career in forestry and wood processing. Debbie Ward, Director, Business and Spatial Intelligence says, "we are seeing more interest from local Māori who, once qualified, can go on to manage their iwi land. This scholarship will benefit not only the recipients, but their iwi and wider communities.”

Tag: Forestry

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Andrew Watene

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