Week in Review
[30 September 2021]
This week Zespri Kiwifrui tests positive for Covid-19 in China, but the situation is managed quickly without expected disruption to ongoing trade.
Supermarkets are still in the headlines as it’s identified that consumers support a ‘split of the duopoly’ with potential future scenarios including a proposal from 2degrees founder for creating a new entrant into the market, or calls for the introduction of new international competitors such as German-owned Aldi.
Insects also hit the headlines, with a new study showing surprising results for New Zealanders appetite for insects, at the same time as an international insect farm announces its advanced use of artificial intelligence to promote food security.
This week Jack Keeys records a Vodcast ‘To Meat, or not to Meat’ building on the content that explores a global Flexitarian Shift published in this year’s Agribusiness Agenda. Jack discusses the data and drivers behind consumers decisions to eat both animal-based or plant-based diets, and where we may be heading in the future.
To read previous editions of Field Notes please click here.
Mature conversation needed around New Zealand’s GE-free status [29 September, Farmers Weekly]
Experts say New Zealand risks losing out on utilising genetic engineering in addressing some of its most pressing issues if NZ does not have a mature discussion whether to continue its GE-free status. Some of these issues include stopping invasive pest species, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and faster adaptation to climate change. KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said gene editing in other countries is creating a more inclusive food system and NZ could be on the wrong side of the ethical debate around GE if it did not have that conversation.
Tag: Biotechnology, Policy and Regulation
Research & Development Spotlight
Scientists aim to enhance the 'human-ness' of infant formula [23 September, NZ Herald]
AgResearch scientists believe they have identified a new way of making infant formula more like breast milk using ingredients that enhance brain development and overall health. The team discovered a natural source of nutritional oil that is "surprisingly similar" to the fat in breast milk and will combine this new nutritional oil with dairy phospholipids. AgResearch said the three-year research funded by the Government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund could create new opportunities for New Zealand's primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.
Tag: Research & Development, Dairy
This Week's Headlines
2degrees founder behind bid to break supermarket duopoly [26 September, Stuff]
2degrees founder Tex Edwards reportedly aims to break the supermarket duopoly after doing the same with Spark and Vodafone’s duopoly over the mobile market. He has been a key figure behind a submission filed with the Commerce Commission by an organisation identified as “Northelia version 1.4” that set out a proposal to set up a third supermarket group. Northelia’s submission says its supermarket chain would be New Zealand-owned, supplied by an “independent competing open access wholesaler,” but first required a “satisfactory intervention” from the Commerce Commission.
Tag: Food Security, Food Marketing
Appetite for insects in New Zealand [27 September, RNZ]
According to a study from the University of Auckland, most New Zealanders would be happy to try eating an insect. Six hundred and sixty-eight people were surveyed, and 60% of them said they'd be willing to eat an insect, and 30% of them already eat insects annually or more frequently.
Tag: Alternative Proteins, Research & Development
Agrifoodtech was the favored destination for climate-focused funding in past 12 months: report [24 September, AgFunder News]
According to Climate Tech VC‘s mid-year review of venture capital funding, investors looking to tackle the climate crisis through clean technology were most interested in startups dealing with food and water over the past year. The ubiquity of food and water in everyday life and the global Covid-19 crisis are two likely factors that prompted this heightened interest, says co-founder of Climate Tech VC Sophie Purdom. Food and water “are the most visceral and the most tangible of all of those climate investing categories,” she added.
Tag: International, Agritech, Environment & Emissions
2021 Food and Agriculture Benchmark [24 September, World Benchmarking Alliance]
The World Benchmarking Alliance’s new Food and Agriculture Benchmark has measured and ranked 350 of the world’s most influential food and agriculture companies on their contributions to transforming the global food system, helping the UN address food systems and global challenges. Its five key findings reveal worrying gaps in the industry’s preparedness for climate change, progress on human rights, and contribution to nutritious diets. It is reported that if these companies do not act now, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement will be further out of sight.
Tag: International, Agribusiness, Environment & Emissions
Fonterra eyes $1b return to shareholders by 2024 as it doubles down on NZ milk [23 September, Stuff]
Fonterra Co-operative Group plans to return around NZ$1 billion to shareholders within the next three years as it sells assets in Chile and Australia to focus on extracting more value from its 10,000 farmer shareholders. Chief executive Miles Hurrell said both moves are critical to differentiate New Zealand milk globally, highlighting its natural, pasture-based credentials which contrast with barn-raised cows in many other parts of the world. It also frees up capital, much of which is intended to be returned to shareholders, Hurrell adds.
Tag: Dairy, Agribusiness
Fonterra completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030 [23 September, Fonterra Co-operative Group]
Fonterra Co-operative Group has announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, showing a final Farmgate Milk Price of NZ$7.54 and normalised earnings per share of 34 cents. The results come as Fonterra Co-operative moves through its three-year business reset and into a new phase of growing business value by “strengthening the value proposition of NZ milk”. CEO Miles Hurrell says, “we’ve stuck to our strategy of maximising the value of our New Zealand milk, moved to a customer-led operating model and strengthened our balance sheet.”
Tag: Dairy, Farmers & Producers
Consumers support split up of supermarket duopoly – survey [23 September, Food Ticker]
According to a survey of 996 responses commissioned by lobby group Monopoly Watch NZ, most consumers believe they pay too much for goods at supermarkets and the current duopoly should be split up to create more competition. The analysis conducted by consultancy Phoenix Research showed 28% of respondents believed prices were ‘much too high’, 36% said they were ‘too high’, and 28% said ‘a little too high’. Only 7% believed they were ‘about right/reasonable’ and 1% did not know. Monopoly Watch NZ has urged the Commerce Commission to recommend as much to the government.
Tag: Food Marketing
Government boosts Snapper quota; first time in 16 years [26 September, Te Ao Māori News]
The Government announced a 300-tonne increase to the snapper commercial fishing quota on the West Coast of the North Island, allowing commercial fishers to take 1600 tonnes of snapper, while the customary Māori Quota will increase from 43 to 100 tonnes. Minister for Primary Industries David Parker was presented with four options starting at a 23% increase in the commercial catch, rising to a 100% jump and says submissions from tangata whenua were part of the decision-making. A review is said to occur in three years.
Tag: Fisheries, Policy and Regulation
Synlait Milk posts $28.5m loss, eyes return to 'robust profitability' this year [27 September, Stuff]
Since listing eight years ago, milk processor Synlait has posted its first annual loss of NZ$28.5 million but says it expects to return to “robust profitability” this year. Synlait said they were forced to shift production to lower margin products, sell assets and restructure business as its largest customer, a2 Milk, suffered a drop in demand for its premium infant formula products in China. As a result, Synlait expects to return to similar levels of profitability as they change manufacturing to ingredients production, Synlait chairman Graeme Milne said.
Tag: Dairy, Agribusiness
Zespri kiwifruit tests positive for Covid-19 in China [24 September, Stuff]
Zespri kiwifruit were pulled from some supermarket shelves in China after a batch of fruit tested positive for Covid-19. The positive test came from fruit held by a second-tier distributor in Hefei province. It tested negative for Covid-19 in Shanghai and was “disinfected as per standard China customs protocols before being cleared and distributed,” Chief executive Dan Mathieson said. He adds, they launched “emergency management in plans” in response to the Covid scare, and the Government was supporting its discussions with Chinese authorities.
Tag: Trade & Exports, Covid-19, Horticulture
Mega-greenhouse arrives for year-round salad growing [25 September, Stuff]
Gisborne vegetable grower Leaderbrand plans to finish building a giant greenhouse to grow year-round salad leaves on June 21, making it the first greenhouse of its kind in New Zealand. Chief executive Richard Burke said it would create a more consistent crop, be unaffected by weather, and be a step towards a more environmentally sustainable operation. The greenhouse is said to be 11 hectares, eight metres tall at its apex and six metres at the entrance for tractors to go in and out.
Tag: Horticulture, Rural Communities
Fonterra banks on flexible future [24 September, Farmers Weekly]
Fonterra Co-operative Group says its new proposed capital structure of taking on new farmer shareholders will strengthen the co-operative and offer financial sustainability. The new structure would set a minimum share requirement of 33% of milk supply with six years to reach that level, allowing up to 4000 sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors to buy in. “Flexible shareholding would help level the playing field with competitors, many of whom are foreign backed and don’t require farmers to invest capital,” Chair Peter McBride said.
Tag: Dairy, Farmers & Producers
Synlait to sell reusable stainless steel milk bottles through New World in South Island [27 September, Stuff]
In its annual report, Synlait announced it will start selling milk in reusable stainless steel bottles across New World stores in the South Island on October 4. The 1.5 litre bottles of locally sourced homogenised milk will be the first consumer food product launched under Synlait’s own brand. The company confirmed a 10-year agreement with Food stuffs South Island, starting April 2019, and aims to become the second-largest player in New Zealand’s consumer dairy food category and develop its own branded consumer dairy foods export business over time.
Tag: Dairy, Food Marketing
Seasonal workers from some Pacific Islands can skip MIQ next week [27 September, Stuff]
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that vaccinated seasonal workers from Vanuatu, Samoa, and Tonga can travel to New Zealand without managed isolation and quarantine, starting from October 4. It will require them to complete a five-day isolation period at their place of work and undergo day zero and day five Covid-19 tests. Ardern says, “starting with RSE workers enables us to trial what is a pseudo-form of shortened isolation in order to ensure safe entry to New Zealand and access both for these workers and for employers.”
Tag: Farmers & Producers, Policy and Regulation, Covid-19
Small processors join forces [28 September, Rural News Group]
Two small milk processors, Taupo-based Miraka and Kawerau-based Waiu Dairy, plan to join forces in developing more niche products for both local and overseas markets. Reportedly, it will see them share production facilities and market insights to boost shareholder returns. Miraka spokeswoman said, "this gives much more flexibility around production runs and allows each partner to access and brand their own individual products/milk for consumer markets.”
Tag: Agribusiness, Dairy
Zespri sales to China continue with no sign of Covid after testing scare [27 September, NZ Herald]
Kiwifruit marketer Zespri says it is continuing to supply into China as normal with no further Covid positive tests on its fruit after a recent scare. Chief executive Dan Mathieson said it was only one batch of Zespri-branded fruit that tested positive during routine testing of imported fruit by Chinese officials. Zespri expected some short-term market impact in China but was encouraged by the response from Chinese consumers, Mathieson said.
Tag: Horticulture, Trade & Exports, Covid-19
The UN summit on food systems took two years to plan. It’s offered nothing to help feed families [23 September, The Guardian]
According to UN special rapporteur Michael Fakhri, despite two years of preparation, the United Nations food systems summit has offered governments nothing substantive to tackle the devastating impact of the global pandemic and the flood crisis that it created. It reportedly offered people nothing to help overcome their daily struggles to feed themselves and their families. The summit left many people feeling disappointed, including other UN human rights experts who participated in its preparation. In response, thousands have organised their own people’s summit and counter-mobilisation.
Tag: International, Food Security
Aquaculture Is Key To Meet Increasing Food Demand, Says FAO [24 September, Scoop]
In the Global Conference on Aquaculture Millenium+20, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations QU Dongyu said aquaculture plays a critical role in global food production, but innovation and equity are required to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth. He says there is huge potential for further expansion in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the conference is considering a range of issues and opportunities ranging from traditional family farming in vulnerable communities to cutting-edge technology.
Tag: International, Aquaculture, Food Security
UK to issue short-term visas to help ease trucker, food industry shortages [29 September, Politico]
The UK government has announced it will grant temporary visas to tackle supply chain problems leading up to Christmas, providing short-term relief to the haulage and food industry. It said 5,000 heavy goods vehicle drivers and 5,500 poultry workers would be able to arrive in the UK to work for a three-month period. Food and Drink Federation Chief executive Ian Wright welcomed the government’s visa decision but warned that the government needs to continue to collaborate with the industry and seek additional long-term solutions.
Tag: International, Food Security, Policy and Regulation
Insect farm uses artificial intelligence to promote food security [28 September, Food Navigator]
UK-based insect mini-farm innovator, Better Origin, has been using artificial intelligence technology to convert local food waste into high-quality animal feed in the form of insect larvae. It aims to help the food industry achieve its net-zero targets, create a sustainable food chain, and improve food supply and livestock welfare. “To ensure that climate action does not sacrifice food security, we must focus on solutions that improve yield and provide us with better food – while saving the planet,” said CEO and co-founder Fotis Fotiadis.
Tag: International, Alternative Proteins, Environment & Emissions
NZ animal serum firm buys Australian rival as it eyes global expansion [29 September, Stuff]
New Zealand’s leading producer of animal-based serum Auckland BioSciences (ABS) has bought an Australian Bio-Tech Laboratory (trading as CellSera). It looks to expand into a global cell culture market that is expected to be worth NZ$52 billion by 2027. ABS co-founder Dr John Chang said that the combined companies are expected to achieve consolidated revenues of NZ$40 million next year as “we globally export extremely high-quality sera that other territories simply can’t manufacture.”
Tag: Agribusiness, Red Meat, Food Innovation
Oz farmers set $100b target [29 September, Rural News Group]
The Australian National Farmers Federation (NFF) says that strong growth is set to see the nation’s farm sector reach A$73 billion in 2021-2022, up from A$66 billion last financial year, edging closer to the farmer-led goal of A$100 billion by 2030. NFF president Fiona Simson said the result was not just from “good luck and rainfall” but "Australian farmers are the most innovative in the world, committed to continuous improvement and to finding new ways to grow smarter, more efficiently and more sustainably.”
Tag: International, Agribusiness, Farmers & Producers
O’Connor travelling to Europe, US [29 September, Farmers Weekly]
Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor plans to travel to Europe and the United States this week to advance New Zealand’s trade and economic interests with key partners. O’Connor will also represent NZ at the G20 Trade Ministers’ Meeting, which Italy invited him to attend as chair of the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade. O’Connor will be accompanied by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Deputy Secretary and chief negotiator for the EU-NZ FTA Vangelis Vitalis.
Tag: Trade & Exports, Policy and Regulation
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