Week in Review

[12 August 2021]

This week greenhouse gas emissions are back in the headlines as representatives of the farming sector compare different data to Greenpeace in recent announcements. Various New Zealand Innovations also appear strongly in this week’s stories including the development of new fruit varieties, functional drinks and new dairy business systems.

Internationally we see stories ranging from the first cultured meat company in Africa to support food security, to new records for ultra-processed food consumption in young people in the United States. 

Article of the Week

This week Justine Fitzmaurice KPMG Director based in Wellington, shares her article on ‘Business Lessons from the Tokyo Olympics” with some powerful messages for organisations in the food and fibre sector. 

You can access the full article here

Spotlight Stories

Agritech Spotlight

'Digital twins': How computers are changing horticulture [09 August, NZ Herald]

Scientists from the University of Queensland are creating 'digital twins' of mango and macadamia orchards with integrated environmental and management simulators to help boost food production. "Digital modelling provides untapped opportunities for users to rapidly trial new ideas and acquire a reliable indicator of how to best optimise production system" lead researcher Dr Liqi Han said. The ‘DigiHort’ platform was designed as a decision-support service for the industry and will be accessible via the internet.

Tag: Horticulture, Agritech, International

International Spotlight

Ultra-processed foods now account for two-thirds of calories in the diets of children and teens [10 August, CNN]

A study analysing the diet of 33,795 children and adolescents in the United States found that ultra-processed foods (such as frozen pizza and microwaved meals) accounted for 67% of calories consumed in 2018, up from 61% in 1999. According to this study, the biggest increase in calories came from ready-to-eat meals such as takeout, frozen pizza and burgers, an increase from 2.2% in 1999 to 11.2% in 2018 of calories. The second-largest increase came from packaged sweet snacks and desserts, which grew from 10.6% to 12.9%.

Tag: International, Food Security

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

Keep up: Novel food innovation outpacing regulatory frameworks and consumer communication [10 August, Food Navigator]

Novel food product development is rapidly outpacing regulation and consumer understanding, with experts calling for better communication and policy advances to ensure innovation leads to commercialisation. Dr. Ben Smith says most of the changing attitudes around food and food safety are influenced by confidence and trust in the regulatory system. He explains the importance of communicating to consumers and ensuring they understand the technologies used in cell-based foods.

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins, Food Innovation, Policy and Regulation

headline 2

Profits flow for most rural companies [11 August, Farmers Weekly]

Profits for many rural companies have increased in what is expected to be a successful financial year for primary production, processing and servicing. PGG Wrightson’s earnings before tax increased by 25% from the previous year, Skellerup’s net profit increased by 50%, Delegat Group’s by 6%, Comvita’s by around 23%, and Zespri, Seeka and Scales Corporation had strong growth in their share price. In contrast, A2 Milk and Synlait suffered a fall in revenue and share price.

Tag: Agribusiness


John Deere announces $250M purchase of Bear Flag Robotics [06 August, Agri Pulse]

John Deere has bought Silicon Valley start-up Bear Flag Robotics for US$250 million, the company’s latest attempt to further develop its autonomous technology. Bear Flag founder Aubrey Donnellan said they have found their ‘niche’ in autonomous tillage but plan to “move across all production steps and, frankly, machine types and machine forms as well.” John Deere adds they look forward to working together towards their ultimate goal of “helping farmers achieve the best possible outcomes through advanced technology.”

Tag: International, Agritech

Top stories

Thousands expected at NZ's first rural mass Covid-19 vaccination clinic [06 August, NZ Herald]

At New Zealand’s first rural mass Covid-19 vaccination event at Stratford, the Taranaki Health Board is expecting to give 6,000 people the first dose of the Pfizer shot, which will move the region from the bottom of the vaccination league table. The operations manager of the vaccination rollout in Taranaki, Rachel Court, explained concerns with the vaccination supply, but the vaccination programme is now ‘firing on all cylinders’ as there are 16 vaccination booths where the DHB aims to deliver 200 shots per hour.

Tag: Rural Communities, Covid-19

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits [06 August, Farmers Weekly]

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market. Therefore, B+LNZ wants limits on the volume of offsets available to participants in the Emissions Trading Scheme, as well as restrictions on the quantity of New Zealand Units (NZUs) issued to forestry participants for post-1989 forests for carbon sequestration. A commissioned report calculates the conversion of farmland to forestry and carbon farming meant the loss of 700,000 stock units from 2017 to 2020.

Tag: Environment & Emissions, Red Meat, Policy and Regulation

Meat industry seeking workers for $80,000 jobs [06 August, Stuff]

The Meat Industry Association has launched a ‘Meat your career’ campaign to help address a shortage of 2000 employees and is offering on-the-job training for roles that pay NZ$80,000. School-leavers with no qualifications can expect to earn between $40,000 to $50,000 a year, while skilled employees like butchers earn close to $70,000. Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says despite investment in automation and technology, many processing tasks need to be done by a person and cannot easily be automated.

Tag: Red Meat, Agribusiness

Whitebait: New rules as experts warn species face extinction [07 August, Te Ao Māori News]

New rules have been introduced to the whitebait fishing methods ahead of next week’s season launch as four of the six whitebait species in New Zealand are threatened or at risk of extinction. The regulations include upstream limits where fishing is only allowed where water levels are affected by the tide and new refuges in the Abel Tasman and Fiordland National Parks. Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says the regulations herald “a more equitable fishery, easing the pressure on whitebait species while providing better alignment and consistency of fishing rules across the country.’’

Tag: Environment & Emissions

Australians use British dictionary definition in Mānuka trademark battle [07 August, Te Ao Maori News]

An Australian honey consortium says they intend on using UK's Oxford dictionary in their battle to put the Māori word 'Mānuka' on honey produced in Australia. However, New Zealand beekeepers are labelling the definition over Māori taonga a 'stunt', saying it has no jurisdiction over Te Ao Māori. While it is reportedly unclear how the Oxford dictionary Manuka definition came about, Kiwi producers say the trademark governing authority of the UK has unequivocally sided with NZ.

Tag: Apiculture, Policy and Regulation, International

Farmers, Greenpeace look to different stats to measure emissions [05 August, RNZ]

According to dairy industry experts, looking at the emissions from the dairy cows themselves is a better measure than examining the total greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming, as too many irrelevant categories are captured. Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard said it is less important to focus on dairy but more on total agriculture emissions. He explains, “land-use changes between dairy and sheep and beef and horticulture and arable - farmers are constantly changing farm systems.”

Tag: Dairy, Environment & Emissions

New business formed to commercialise innovative fruits [09 August, Stuff]

Fruit marketer T&G Global is starting a new business, VentureFruit, to commercialise innovative fruits, and expects to launch 50 new varieties in the next five years, including a yellow raspberry. It is reported that developing new varieties of fruit can take about 20 years but it is an area where T&G already has experience, having launched apple varieties to markets around the world. T&G chief executive Gareth Edgecombe said unique plant genetics were critical to the future of a sustainable fresh produce sector.

Tag: Horticulture, Research & Development, Food Innovation

Happy Cow Milk reaches $500,000 fundraising target for ethical dairy business [09 August, Stuff]

Ethical dairy business Happy Cow Milk has reached its NZ$500,000 crowdfunding target, allowing it to relaunch the enterprise, build a prototype for a mobile “milk factory in a box” system, and run a trial. The system uses a high-tech mobile unit where milk is pasteurised and then transported to a retail outlet for dispensing. As part of a trial, North Waikato farmer Chris Falconer said “for me, success will be people enjoying a direct connection with the milk they drink.”

Tag: Dairy, Agribusiness

Tegel to lift chicken prices by 10 per cent [09 August, Stuff]

Tegel has said they will raise their chicken prices from mid-August by roughly 10% due to pressures on the industry, including increases in the cost of labour, feed and fuel impacting supply chain costs. Chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council Katherine Rich said Tegel should be commended for its transparency as many other food suppliers are facing similar cost pressures. She adds, "I completely understand how shoppers dislike any kind of price increase but in this instance they have little choice.”

Tag: Poultry

Milling wheat crop sowing down by almost 30% [09 August, Farmers Weekly]

According to Federated Farmers arable industry chair Colin Hurst, uncertainty over restrictive new buying practices and competition from the feed wheat industry has seen growers cut back on sowing milling wheat by almost 30%. Hurst says they have approached Commerce Minister David Clarke and that “we think government should be interested in this situation, given the NZ crops and seeds sector has raised gross revenue from NZ$655 million in 2017 to NZ$940m last year, and especially while New Zealanders indicate a will to support locally grown produce.”

Tag: Arable

Africa’s first cultivated meat company targets food security, land use, and subsistence farmers’ livelihoods [06 August, Food Navigator]

South Africa’s Mzansi Meat Co. aims to improve food security while bringing subsistence farmers’ into the economy by producing cultivated local delicacies. CEO Brett Thompson explains “we have a plan on working with conventional farmers. If we want to get to scale, we will have to work with everybody.” The start-up has also started planning its own production of culture media in-house, using sterilised, food-safe bulk constituents to drive costs down to less than US$5 per litre from the current approximated US$80 per litre.

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins, Food Innovation

Parkers builds out functional drink portfolio [09 August, Food Ticker]

Parkers Beverage Company is expanding from their fruit juice range of products into the functional beverage space as they rebuild the business following a challenging pandemic which almost led to them closing down. Parkers Beverage Company developed the ‘Prime’ by their nootropics drink range which uses ingredients such as blackcurrant and willow bark extract for its Perform stimulant drink, and amino acid L-theanine, magnesium and vitamin C for its “more relaxing” Calm beverage.

Tag: Food Innovation, Food Marketing

Wool roadshow to shed light on direction [09 August, Farmers Weekly]

Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) and CP Wool chair Richard Young encourages farmers to attend a nationwide roadshow meeting to understand the opportunity for industry transformation created by the proposed merger between Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) and PWC. “Directors and staff will be on hand to explain what we are doing to increase demand for strong wool and capture more of the value consumers pay for these woollen products,” WNZ chair James Parsons said. “This all adds up to a better future for the sector, and most importantly, our farmers.”

Tag: Wool, Farmers & Producers

Australia offering $2000 incentive for regional workers [10 August, Stuff]

The Australian government is offering up to NZ$2,000 relocation assistance to Kiwis and those with valid work visas to move to Australia and work on farms in regional areas. Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker chairman Jason Herrick said that these incentives and quicker pathways to family reunification were causing immigrant farmworkers to depart for either Australia or Canada. Herrick does not believe New Zealand could offer the same incentives Australia was advertising, given that the wait on MIQ spots prevented workers from entering the country.

Tag: Labour & Workforce, Farmers & Producers, Policy and Regulation

How food prices affect what, and how much, farmers produce [11 August, Stuff]

According to New Zealand Institute for Economic Research, farmers shouldered, on average, 20% of the retail price of food in staple items in 2019, and despite fluctuating food prices and the rising cost of labour, this has not changed in over a decade. Horticultural industry bodies say that the supermarkets dictate what growers are paid for their produce. In contrast, high export prices are reported to have a larger effect on farmers’ decisions as the average orchard gate return per tray has grown from NZ$7.66 in 2012 to NZ$12.46 in 2021.

Tag: Food Security, Farmers & Producers

Technology firm helps 18,000 farms to keep on top of finances [11 August, Stuff]

A financial software and Xero add-on ‘Figured’ is being used by around 18,000 farms nationwide as it helps farmers make better financial decisions and face new challenges such as stricter environmental regulations and increasing compliance costs. It helps to calculate the impact of losing animals to winter frosts and predict how incoming regulations could affect profitability. Additionally, the service produces financial plans and creates reports to help farmers see whether they are on track or not and what might need to change.

Tag: Agritechnology, Farmers & Producers

Eradication plan on track - MPI [11 August, Rural News Group]

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has been investigating New Zealand’s response to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak and has said that NZ is on track to eradicate the disease. MPI's Stuart Anderson says there are now just three active confirmed infected farms, compared to 34 two years ago. Additionally, TAG made 14 recommendations for the programme, including advice regarding monitoring of beef herds and non-milking dairy cows and what is required to move from delimiting to the provisional freedom of infection phase over the next year.                 

Tag: Biosecurity, Farmers & Producers

Nationwide project offers hope in war against weeds [10 August, NZ Herald]

A NZ$3.2 million national research project aimed at tackling six of New Zealand's most invasive weeds through biocontrol is expected to have far-reaching benefits for landowners and councils across the country, reducing herbicides and labour needed for weed control. Although biocontrol was expensive upfront to develop, collaborative cost-sharing models would make the development stage affordable, and the long-term benefits made it "well worthwhile," chairman of the project's governance group Phil McKenzie said.

Tag: Biosecurity, Farmers & Producers

Launched during the pandemic, how this agritech startup onboarded one million farmers, over 50,000 retailers [10 August, Your Story]

The agritech startup ‘Nurture.Farm’ claim to have one million farmers and 50,000 retailers as they operate an open platform to supply products, innovation and mechanisation. They provide innovative and affordable farming solutions and focus on encouraging and driving regenerative practice. The platform educates farmers on sustainable agricultural practices that are normally inaccessible to smallholder farmers and claims to foster resilient farmers and make agriculture simple, profitable, and sustainable through technology-led solutions.

Tag: International, Agritech, Farmers & Producers

Kiwibot partners with hospitality giant Sodexo to bring food delivery robots to more college campuses [11 August, Tech Crunch]

Kiwibot, the robotic sidewalk delivery start-up, has announced a partnership with food services and facilities management giant Sodexo to bring its robots to U.S. college campuses. Kiwibot chief operating officer Diego Varela Prada said campuses are often a natural choice for start-ups in autonomous development. Not only are universities open to experimenting with new ideas, but given the unit economics on campus, the revenue growth prospects are more favourable than working B2B in a city.

Tag: International, Agritech

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