Week in Review

[23 September 2021]

This week we see several supermarket headlines in New Zealand. The grocery conduct code gets support from both Countdown and Foodstuffs, while a new report highlights potential harm of grocery private labels through the current power imbalance between suppliers and buyers.

Internationally the UK food sector is urgently seeking solutions to a carbon dioxide shortage vital to meat processing. It’s also another big week for alternative proteins with a life cycle analysis of Perfect day alternative dairy showing strong environmental performance, a breakthrough in a new type of fermented alternative seafood, and a record fundraise for Eat Just after raising another USD$97m for their culture meat production. 

Article of the Week

This week KPMG Propagate Advisor Lincoln Roper shares his article on unlocking unique opportunities of gamification and how we could integrate this concept in our food and fibre sector.

You can access the article here.

Spotlight Stories

Alternative Proteins Spotlight:

‘Hybrids are coming’: Making the case for cell-cultured and plant-based blends [21 September, Food Navigator]

According to industry experts, the “perfect match” of cell-cultured and plant-based ingredients is headed for regulatory approval and market entry. Industry experts claim it achieves the “entire sensory experience,” has good nutrition and clean label, and is sustainable. David Brandes, co-founder of Belgian cultured fat start-up Peace of Meat, claims “all sorts of meats will be consumed in the future, from plant-based to microbial fermentation based, cultured, and also hopefully only high quality and ethically sourced livestock meat.”

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins, Food Innovation      

Environment & Emissions Spotlight

NZ’s on track, climate expert says [17 September, Farmers Weekly]

NZ Climate Change Research Institute director David Frame believes New Zealand’s approach to pastoral greenhouse gas reduction remains robust and world-leading, despite a big methane target set by the US-EU Global Methane Pledge. Frame says he is sceptical about the Pledge as it is “quite disingenuous and the benefits are being oversold.” It is aimed at “protecting gas and oil interests by seeking an easy reduction by removing those losses through leaks.” Frame says NZ remains the most advanced with its biogenic methane reduction programme.

Tag: Environment & Emissions, Farming Systems   

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

China applies to join Pacific trade pact abandoned by Donald Trump [17 September, NZ Herald]

China has applied to join an 11-nation Asia-Pacific free trade group in an effort to increase its influence over international policies. An official Chinese newspaper, Global Times, said the application cements Beijing's "leadership in global trade" and leaves the United States "increasingly isolated” as Donald Trump pulled out in 2017. The CPTPP was originally the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which took effect in 2018 and includes agreements on market access, movement of labour and government procurement.

Tag: Trade & Exports, International

headline 2

Countdown follows Foodstuffs with support for grocery conduct code [16 September, Food Ticker]

Countdown has followed Foodstuffs North Island in pledging support for a mandatory grocery conduct code and promising numerous other changes in response to the Commerce Commission’s draft market study report. Countdown disagrees with the draft as they said falling prices should have been a key feature of the Commerce Commission’s analysis. Countdown also claimed that the NZ retail grocery sector is both “dynamic and intensely competitive” with the increase of grocery competitors such as Farro Fresh, My Food Bag etc.

Tag: Food Marketing, Policy and Regulation


Nestlé investing $1.29B to support regenerative agriculture [16 September, Food Dive]

Nestlé announced it is investing US$1.29 billion over the next five years to support and accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture across its global supply chain. Nestlé will work with its network of more than 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers to promote practices that enhance biodiversity, soil conservation, regeneration of water cycles and integration of livestock. Nestle said it first aims to tackle farming, to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050, as its emissions from farms account for nearly two-thirds of its total emissions.

Tag: International, Environment & Emissions, Farming Systems     

Top stories

Consumers urged to check pork product labels as country of origin rules delayed again [15 September, Stuff]

The NZ Government’s plan for the origin of food labelling regulations will now commence on February 12 instead of December as previously planned, “hugely” frustrating pork producers who compete with foreign imports. This is because cheaper imported pork that did not meet New Zealand’s high animal welfare and environmental standards could continue to be sold without clear labelling, says Chief executive of NZ Pork David Baines. “NZ Pork will be encouraging consumers to look on the label and ask retailers for locally born and raised pork, especially going into the Christmas ham season” Baines said.

Tag: Pork, Food Marketing, Policy and Regulation

More countries ban Brazil meat imports 16 September, Farmers Weekly]

The ABC reports that Russia, Indonesia, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia have all joined China in banning either all infected states or certain processing plants of Brazilian beef after discovering two cases of mad cow disease. Cumulatively, these countries take 55% of Brazil’s exports. The NZ meat industry says exporters aren’t able to take advantage of the lost supply to these countries as production is at a seasonal low. Additionally, there is concern amongst NZ exporters as the issue could see Brazilian beef diverted to other markets, disrupting NZ trade.

Tag: Biosecurity, Red Meat, Trade & Exports

Sheep milk research could be a game-changer [16 September, Farmers Weekly]

Massey University student Jolin Morel’s Ph.D. research looked at developing a new way of freezing ovine milk, which may benefit New Zealand’s expanding sheep milk sector. The technology is in the process of being patented, and work is underway to build prototype on-farm units for freezing ovine milk. “There are some other ways where you can continuously freeze liquid, so they look like an ice cream machine or something similar, but this method is a lot more simple; it relies on careful control of the freezing process,” Morel said.

Tag: Research & Development, Dairy

Rough seas ahead for supply chain [16 September, Farmers Weekly]

Leading trade advisor Charles Finny says that until new ships are commissioned into the global container fleet, there will remain an imbalance that keeps isolated countries like NZ vulnerable to schedule changes and capacity issues. After the surge in global demand for goods post-2020 lockdowns, he says it was clear shipping companies had got things very wrong when they anticipated a global retraction in trade. Finny suspects to see fewer large ships visiting NZ ports, requiring sharper focus on a coastal shipping network to service engaged ports in a “hub and spoke” arrangement.

Tag: Trade & Exports

Carbon farming with pines bad for the environment - EDS [16 Septemeber, Voxy]

The Environmental Defence Society is calling for an urgent reset of New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme as the expansion of pine forests drives “short-term expediency,” soaring the price of carbon to over NZ$60 per tonne. CEO Gary Taylor says, “where land is converted to forests, we need to incentivise permanent native forests. They will sequester more carbon over time than exotics, restore lost habitat, lower fire, and biosecurity risks, reduce sediment runoff, and significantly enhance landscape and biodiversity. Native forests are our unique solution.”

Tag: Forestry, Environment & Emissions

Young Mackenzie inventors may hold answer to common farming frustration [16 September, Stuff]

Three Mackenzie College students have created ‘Flexi Mat Frostease,’ designed to stop troughs from icing over, allowing animals to drink through the holes by pushing the mat down with their nose. The Flexi-Mat is a circular-shaped bladder constructed out of layers of outdoor-grade canvas and plastic welded together and is estimated to sell for under NZ$100. Co-founder Amy Hay says the product is already attracting attention, with farm supply companies getting in touch keen to stock the device as soon as it’s completed.

Tag: Water, Animal Welfare

How Comvita’s ‘unique’ model helped drive its $19m turnaround [16 September, Food Ticker]

Comvita has released its annual report which illustrates a reverse in the loss of NZ$9.7 million from the previous 12 months and provides full insight into how Comvita sees its operations and markets. It includes an extensive Q&A with board chair Brett Hewlett and chief executive David Banfield. “Our focus is on delivering long-term, profitable growth rather than just to ‘get orders’, and in the medium term, we believe this will be reflected in our customers designating Comvita as their brand of choice,” says Banfield in response to a question.

Tag: Apiculture, Agribusiness

Scientist looking to improve milk enzymes [20 September, Stuff]

Dr. Juliana Leite, a postdoctoral fellow at the Riddet Institute, is working on a joint AgResearch-Riddet Institute project studying the effects of heating and drying processes to make milk powder on enzymes from different species. Leite has discovered that the different heat treatment processes have different effects on each milk type, and she is interested in modifying milk treatment methods to protect and enhance their protease content. Leite believes the industry will one day be able to develop products with specific benefits for target populations.

Tag: Research & Development, Dairy, Food Innovation

Private labels add to grocery power imbalance – report [20 September, Food Ticker]

According to new research commissioned by the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, private labels do more harm than good for both suppliers and consumers in New Zealand’s highly concentrated grocery sector. The report found that private labels tilted the balance favouring buyers by providing them with another option to stock on its shelves, whereas the supplier may not have another retailer it could turn to. “In a concentrated retail market, retailers already have strong buyer power, which can stifle innovation and reduce competition in the long run,” the report said.

Tag: Food Marketing

Brief: Gates Foundation leads $707m investment in Dutch e-grocer Picnic [17 September, AgFunderNews]

Amsterdam-based e-grocery platform Picnic has raised US$707 million in Series D funding, which was led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust. The Gates Foundation reportedly aligns with Picnic’s vision as they aim to build a more sustainable food ecosystem, from production to consumption. Picnic said it will use the funds to hire tech talent, build automated fulfilment centres, grow its electric vehicle fleet, and expand its operations across Europe, with an initial focus on France and Germany.

Tag: International, Food Marketing    

Carbon dioxide 'threatens food security' says meat industry [18 September, BBC News]

The closure of two CF Industries Holdings plants has cut the UK's food-grade carbon dioxide supply by 60%, threatening the process of slaughtering pigs and chickens and packaging, says a British Meat Processors Association spokesperson. The remaining UK carbon dioxide production is reportedly being prioritised for the NHS for medical uses, and for the nuclear industry, which uses it as a coolant. The government is monitoring the situation “closely” and has been holding emergency talks with industry groups and meat processors.

Tag: International, Red Meat, Agribusiness  

Southland Aquaculture Group welcomes call for seaweed body [20 September, Stuff]

The Southland Aquaculture Working Group has welcomed calls for a national seaweed sector group and governance framework to claim a share of the US$14 billion industry. A report for the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge project says a sector body to help guide necessary legislative changes, a strategic plan from the government, and a governance framework that incorporates Māori and mātauranga are needed to develop the industry. The Southland Aquaculture Working Group's Ken Swinney said “Southland will be at the forefront of aquaculture development over the next five years or more.”

Tag: Aquaculture, Research & Development

Eat Just Raises $97 Million More to Fund Cultured Meat Production [21 September, Bloomberg]

Eat Just Inc., the San Francisco-based maker of plant-based egg products, raised an additional US$97 million in funding to advance the company’s work on cultured meat, bringing the round to US$267m, being the largest ever for cultivated meat. Investors say it will help meet the world’s rising demand for animal products in a more humane and environmentally friendly way. Eat Just Inc. will use the investment to boost production primarily by designing and engineering bioreactors used to grow the cell-based meat.

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins, Agribusiness           

Dairy prices rise at global auction; demand is 'hot', analyst says [22 September, Stuff]

The global dairy trade price index increased 1% at the fortnightly auction, showing demand remains “hot” for New Zealand’s biggest export commodity. This followed a 4% gain at the previous auction, the biggest increase since it jumped 15% in early March. NZX dairy analyst Stuart says that buyers from South East Asia were the dominant purchasers of whole milk powder at the latest auction, and Chinese buyers purchased large amounts of whole milk powder over previous months and may also be purchasing more through contract.

Tag: Dairy, Trade & Exports              

Lamb prices forecast to rise further [20 September, NZ Herald]

Economists predict lamb prices could reach as high as NZ$9.65-$9.75kg, 30% ahead of the previous highs at this point in the season reached in 2019 and 2020. ASB economist Nathaniel Keall says the African Swine Fever was on the rise in China and had the potential to drive demand away from pork to other types of meat while the global reopening continued to support restaurant demand offshore. Additionally, Covid-19 has presented significant challenges to exports' supply chain and logistics over the last year.

Tag: Red Meat, Trade & Exports       

Solid result for Arla despite Covid [15 September, Rural News Group]

European co-operative Arla Foods says it has delivered financial results and branded sales volumes at the top end of expectations despite challenges posed by the global pandemic. Total revenues increased by 1.2% to almost NZ$9 billion and high branded sales volume increased by 5.6% across all dairy categories, particularly in the retail sector. Chief executive officer Peder Tuborgh says global consumer demand for dairy has remained strong over the first half of 2021 as people continue to value the taste, nutritional quality and variety that dairy brings to their diets.

Tag: International, Dairy, Agribusiness

Eliminating beef cattle pregnancy loss with CRISPR/Cas9 technology [21 September, AgriLife Today]

A recent US$500,000 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture has funded Dr. Ky Pohler’s project to advance understanding of embryonic mortality and pregnancy loss in cows. The new grant will allow his team to utilise CRISPR/Cas9 technology. The study is expected to uncover a deeper understanding of the causes and potential strategies to prevent reproductive loss, causing significant economic problems for the beef and dairy industries.

Tag: International, Research & Development, Red Meat      

Aqua Cultured Foods breaks new ground in alt-seafood space with fermentation-based whole cuts [21 September, Food Navigator]

The Startup Aqua Cultured Foods has entered a new alternative seafood space with its Non-GMO fermentation-based production platform capable of delivering high-protein, nutrient-rich "whole cuts" of fungi-based seafood. It said its fnzfirst products (whole cut calamari and popcorn shrimp) are set to launch on a small scale in the foodservice market in 2022. The startup adds, “the exciting thing about the technology is that it’s highly tunable, so we can change the texture and nutritional profile of final product by optimising the feedstock and the environment.”

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins, Aquaculture

Don’t have a cow? Perfect Day lifecycle assessment underscores sustainability benefits of animal-free dairy proteins

Berkeley-based startup Perfect Day has highlighted its sustainability credentials with the release of an expanded lifecycle assessment (LCA), suggesting its ‘non-animal’ whey protein has a dramatically lower environmental footprint than animal-derived whey protein. The LCA showed that Perfect Day’s non-animal whey protein production reduces blue water consumption by 96-99% and non-renewable energy use by 29-60% when compared to conventional production methods. Additionally, animal-whey generates 62-97% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than whey from cows.

Tag: International, Environment & Emissions, Alternative Proteins, Dairy

UN Summit Sets The Stage For Global Pledge To Develop Food Systems That Serve People And Planet [21 September, Scoop]

The upcoming UN Food Systems Summit is set to trigger the transformation of food systems worldwide with a full day of commitments from governments, advocates, communities and businesses. The Summit follows an 18-month process in which 148 countries have hosted national dialogues with key players at every stage of the food system to develop national strategies for more inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems. It aims to unite everyone in a shared commitment to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals with fundamental human rights at their core.

Tag: International, Food Security       

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