Week in Review

[09 September 2021]

In New Zealand, dairy prices increase 4% at the latest GDT auction and beef shortages boost red meat prices too. However avocado growers prepare for a big price drop with oversupply from Australia, and the wine industry continues to face challenges with undersupply of labour.

In international news, Brazil’s beef exports are disrupted due to new cases of ‘mad cow disease’, a leading research group provides free access to CRISPR-cas patents to support food security, and business structure innovation in the trade of ‘blood honey’ in West Bengal, India helps to reduce danger and deaths from tiger attacks. 

Article of the Week

This week’s article is from guest author Lisa Sims, General Manager at Agri Women’s Development Trust who provides her insight including reflections from KPMG’s Agribusiness Agenda 2021.

You can access the full article here.

Spotlight Stories

International Spotlight

Brazilian export blow could impact NZ [06 September, Farmers Weekly]

Brazil has suspended exports after confirmation of detecting two cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalitis (also known as mad cow disease), which has halted the annual beef exports to China of 900,000 tonnes. Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says “an extended ban on Brazilian beef by China may see Brazil look to diversify to other markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, the Middle East and other southeast Asian countries." This potentially displaces some NZ beef exports from these other markets says Karapeeva.

Tag: International, Trade & Exports, Biosecurity, Red Meat

Horticulture Spotlight

T&G’s VentureFruit takes root [02 September, Food Ticker]

According to T&G Global managing director Peter Landon-Lane, its new international genetics and variety management business, VentureFruit, has around 50 premium apple, pear and berry projects lined up for the next five years. Landon-Lane says that while the new business establishment did not need a huge capital investment upfront, its activity is expected to deliver a “meaningful” return over time to the group, which posted interim revenue of NZ$652.1 million in the six months to June 2021.

Tag: Horticulture, Research & Development

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

Plant-based market ‘could be nearing saturation point’ [02 September, Food Navigator]

According to a report from communications agency Lexington, the plant-based sector is not guaranteed to stay on a growth trajectory despite its growing popularity. The report’s authors wrote, “one of the major benefits of plant-based food is said to be its positive effects on a diet – however, again this is disputed. Some nutritionists warn of plant-based diets being short on iron and other nutrients." Additionally, the British Meat Processers Association noted "the meat industry is over 11 times its size in value sales", making it clear the growth data on the category is starting from a tiny base.

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins

headline 2

Acute container shortage could have 'devastating' impact on business [03 September, Stuff]

According to Venture Timaru chief executive Nigel Davenport, an acute shortage of refrigerated containers should be NZ's most important priority alongside the response to the Delta variant. Davenport said the nation cannot afford reduced production because of inconsistent or non-existent container supply and believes the Government should consider a road, rail and sea logistics strategy involving coastal shipping. Export New Zealand chief executive Catherine Beard said discussions have been held about chartering ships with major food exporters considering large vessels using pallets instead of containers.

Tag: Trade & Exports, Agribusiness


Kiwifruit smuggler ordered to pay Zespri $12 million after unsuccessful appeal [07 September, Stuff]

A former kiwifruit grower who smuggled cuttings of Zespri’s prized gold variety to China has been ordered to pay the kiwifruit exporter NZ$12.1 million after an unsuccessful appeal. The appeal, in which Haoyu Gao claimed Justice Sarah Katz had mistakenly ruled hearsay statements were admissible and that the gold varieties would not have reached the grower in China without Gao’s actions, was otherwise dismissed. Zespri initially sought NZ$30m damages for the breach of its intellectual property, which it said had put possibly billions of dollars of future exports at risk and threatened the livelihoods of 2800 orchardists.

Tag: Horticulture, Policy and Regulation

Top stories

Comvita launches share buy-back scheme [02 September, Food Ticker]

Manuka honey supplier Comvita says it will acquire up to 350,000 of its shares, currently trading on the NZX at around NZ$3.65 per share, due to upcoming share scheme arrangements for employees and suppliers. Comvita said it would resume dividend payments after posting a net profit of NZ$9.5 million for FY21, reversing a loss of NZ$9.7m the previous year.

Tag: Apiculture, Agribusiness

Fonterra exports overcome disruptions [02 September, Farmers Weekly]

Fonterra Co-operative increased its exports by 4% from last year to 2.59 million tonnes despite shipping capacity dropping 20% as shipping lines bypassed New Zealand to try and catch up on schedules. Chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says, “the critical event team worked tirelessly to coordinate our response across all our teams” and the efforts of logistical partners such as Kotahi and Coda Group has helped smooth what could have been a challenging year.

Tag: Dairy, Trade & Exports

Aupōuri aquifer consents granted, DoC to decide whether to appeal [03 September, NZ Herald]

More than NZ$145 million of potential Northland horticultural development across 24 properties on the Far North's Aupōuri Peninsula have gained the required consent to take over 4.5 million cubic metres of groundwater each year from the Aupōuri aquifer. As a result, The Department of Conservation will decide next week whether to appeal these consents.

Tag: Water, Horticulture, Policy and Regulation

Growers forced to throw out food with no way to sell it [04 September, TVNZ]

While the move to Alert Level three is encouraging for businesses south of Auckland some will still struggle, despite eased restrictions. Small growers are frustrated that farmers markets aren’t treated the same way as supermarkets, especially as they are classed as an essential service in countries such as Australia and the US. Otago produce business owner Rodger Whitson says “it’s cheaper for us to throw it out than give it away (to charity) because you've still got to process it, you've got to pack it - you've still got to chill it and deliver it.”

Tag: Farmers & Producers, Covid-19 , Rural Communities

Red meat and co-products exports reach $870 million [03 September, Rural News Group]

According to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association, New Zealand export of red meat and co-products totalled NZ$870 million during July 2021, marking a 29% increase year-on-year. More than 25,300 tonnes of sheep meat and almost 50,000 tonnes of beef were exported with increases in exports to all major North American and Asian markets. China remained the largest market, followed by the US, Japan and Taiwan, as total exported red meat and co-products increased by 57%, 32%, 62% and 18%, respectively.

Tag: Red Meat, Trade & Exports

A stirring idea [03 September, Farmers Weekly]

Rex Allflex rears about 60 calves on his small block in Gore and has created an innovative product called Podstir that addresses a key problem in colostrum management during calving season. Allflex used parts from suppliers in Europe and China to design the Podstir and sold a few units online before deciding to have a crack at the Fieldays Innovations Awards.  “I’ve sold units to a range of industries, including a pavlova company and a beekeeper, but ultimately, the concept started to help others like me rearing calves and storing large quantities of milk and colostrum,” Allflex says.

Tag: Farmers & Producers, Food Innovation

Drinking water nitrates unlikely cancer threat – study [03 September, Farmers Weekly]

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) study has suggested it is highly unlikely that nitrates in New Zealand’s drinking water present an increased risk of getting bowel cancer. Researcher Peter Cressey says it was important to look at the nitrate intake from both food and water, as less than 10% of nitrates consumed came from water – the rest is from food, especially green vegetables, which contain antioxidants that cancel out nitrates. The study also found that potatoes and lettuce are a major source of the nitrates consumed by adults and children.

Tag: Water, Food Safety, Research & Development 

New Māori food network ready to feed 200,000 whānau [07 September, Te Ao Maori News]

A Māori food network led by Māori providers and 12 marae known as Te Taumata Kōrero has kicked off, catering to more than 200,000 families in the Auckland region. Its main objective is to use its network base to access essentials from supermarkets and food distributors to then roll its scheme out using Ministry of Social Development funding. Frontline leader John Cameron says lockdown has seen a climb in unemployment leaving families struggling to afford food, which is a significant factor in the network’s partnership with outsourcing its supply.

Tag: Food security, Covid-19             

Otis puts money where its mouth is with 1% fund launch [06 September, Food Ticker]

Otis Oat Milk has launched a fund of 1% of its total sales to help New Zealand farmers diversify into growing oats as the plant-based milk company continues efforts to bring its overseas production onshore. Founders Chris Wilkie and Tim Ryan plan to connect with researchers, thought leaders, and farmers to find out the barriers to growing oats, what scientific work could contribute to the project, and where farmers may need the most support.

Tag: Alternative Proteins, Farmers & Producers

Halter plans to start selling its high-tech cow collars to Canterbury farmers after raising $32 million [07 September, Stuff]

Farming technology company Halter, which sells high-tech collars to manage and monitor dairy herds remotely, is using NZ$32 million of new investment funding to expand into Canterbury. The solar-powered GPS-enabled smart collar guides cows around a farm using sound and vibrations, allowing farmers to automate herd movements and create virtual fences. The technology can also alert farmers when a cow is hurt or on heat. Chief executive Craig Piggott says the company plans to expand to the rest of the country and then overseas after establishing itself in Canterbury.

Tag: Agritech, Farmers & Producers

Still waiting [07 September, Rural News Group]

British and New Zealand trade negotiators state they are working endlessly to get a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, which they aimed to complete by the end of August. Former NZ High Commissioner Sir Lockwood Smith stated that the FTA with the UK is crucial, and if the present government doesn't do a deal, it would be a massive failure on their part. Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor is hopeful of a deal and said that negotiations were "continuing" toward reaching an agreement in principle.

Tag: Trade & Exports, Policy and Regulation

Migrant worker change! [07 September, Rural News Group]

The NZ Government is looking at curbing the reliance on migrant workers as part of immigration service changes post-Covid, which includes looking at ways to increase productivity in the workforce. Environment Minister David Parker says "we have a concern that overreliance on access to ever-increasing numbers of short-term and long-term migrants reduces the incentive to increase productivity capital." Parker adds there are areas of high growth requirements of special skills that are unlikely to be met from our labour market.

Tag: Policy and regulation, Agribusiness

Waive CRISPR patents to meet food needs in low-income countries [06 September, Nature]

This week, Wageningen University & Research announced it will provide non-profit organisations with free non-commercial licences to use its CRISPR-Cas to help make food production sustainable, nutritious, and safe. The university hopes the move will inspire a worldwide change in CRISPR-Cas intellectual property policy. CRISPR-Cas offers an advantage over conventional plant breeding as it can rapidly and efficiently modify plant traits e.g., to offset the impacts of climate change and pathogens.

Tag: International, Research & Development, Food security

‘Blood honey’ is a booming business and the rising demand is changing the lives of moulis in Sundarbans [06 September, Business Insider India]

Sundarban honey has high demand for its nutritional value and purity but is also called blood honey due to the risks involved in collection as every year people die from tiger attacks while venturing into the forests to collect it. However, there are now multiple local organisations like Bonphool and Sundarini Naturals that are investing in safer procedures to collect honey and are growing yearly with the increase in demand. A kilogram of organic Sundarini honey is sold for INR₹900 (NZ$17.28) while other branded honey is often sold for half the price.

Tag: International, Apiculture

New beef genetics programme to deliver cows with smaller environmental hoof-print [07 September, Beehive]

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced that the Government is backing a genetics programme to lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows with a smaller environmental hoof-print. “To date we’ve relied on an Australian beef genetics framework, but the time is right to create our own programme tailored to New Zealand conditions,” says O’Connor. The new genetics programme will use Artificial Insemination and genomic selection to identify the bulls with the best genetic markers earlier in their life, and with greater accuracy.

Tag: Environment & Emissions, Red Meat, Research & Development

A third of all shark and ray species at risk of extinction [08 September, One News]

A global benchmark study has warned that one-third of the world's shark and ray species are at risk of extinction primarily due to overfishing, which will reportedly have profound consequences on the marine ecosystem. Australian marine biologist Colin Simpfendorfer says in some developing nations, they have become a cheap source of protein in human diets, adding another layer of complexity to the task of conserving them. However, he says many non-government organisations are already heavily involved in sustainable fishing initiatives in these countries.

Tag: Fisheries, Environment & Emissions

Dairy prices jump 4% at auction, the biggest gain in six months [08 September, Stuff]

The global dairy trade price index posted its biggest increase since early March of 4% with gains across all products. The average price is sitting 24% higher than the same time last year. Fonterra Co-operative has been reducing the amount of whole milk powder it offers on the auction platform, saying it has “extremely strong” contract demand and expectations for flat milk supply this season will limit its ability to increase production.

Tag: Fisheries, Environment & Emissions

Shortage beefs up prices [07 September, Rural News Group]

A global shortage of beef and a surge in demand has lifted farmgate prices for New Zealand farmers over the past three months. RaboResearch analyst Genevieve Steven says the high pricing comes from strong demand from China and suppressed beef export volumes from Australia. Argentina's decision to restrain its beef export is also helping prices rise. "Pricing across both islands is tracking well ahead of last year and currently sits 10% above the five-year average," says Steven.

Tag: Red Meat, Trade & Exports

Avocado exports face headwinds this year [07 September, Farmers Weekly]

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their upcoming spring and summer fruit harvests, mainly because of an oversupply of avocado in Australia. It is reported that the average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of NZ$23 for exported fruit. NZ Avocado board member Jim Tarawa, says global logistics made it very difficult to serve Asian customers as they take fruit a month at a time instead of a full season due to the threat of lockdowns.

Tag: Horticulture, Trade & Exports

Vines left unpruned amid staff shortages [07 September, Farmers Weekly]

Wine NZ chief executive Philip Gregan is expecting another tight year of labour availability and fears reduction in grape yields from the unpruned vines. The Government has approved a quarantine-free access for up to 14,400 workers from Pacfic countries under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE) but Gregan says it still may not meet the horticulture sector’s needs. He adds “there are not the same number of backpackers in the country, which has historically been an important labour resource and unemployment is very low, so there are not a lot of New Zealanders.”

Tag: Viticulture, Covid-19, Policy and Regulation

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