Week in Review

Early in this Field Notes week the United Kingdom and New Zealand agreed on the details for their free trade agreement, bringing several stories from both sides of the world from praise to criticism.

Other themes follow trends of the past few weeks, with dairy and red meat prices strong, oversupply causing tension in key horticulture crops and continued tensions in global supply chains. 

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Spotlight Stories

Arable Spotlight:

Herbicide resistance found on 48% of Canterbury cereal farms [25 October, Stuff]

A study led by Dr Chris Buddenhagen​ of AgResearch​ found that resistant weeds were found on 48% of Canterbury wheat and barley farms. Buddenhagen said herbicides were not causing the resistance per se. Instead, the “genetic mutations that confer resistance occur rarely in some individual plants in a population. For example, resistance mutations have been found in herbarium specimens from the 1700s, prior to the advent of herbicides”. The study suggested that weed resistance was historically under-reported by farmers and the chemical industry and under-investigated by scientists.

Tag: Arable, Environment & Emissions

Red Meat Spotlight

Demand drives export prime meat prices to record levels [21 October, Farmers Weekly]

According to AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad, the growing demand as countries return to normal after Covid-19 combined with the demand for domestic livestock exceeding supply has driven export prime meat prices to record levels. The average export value for New Zealand beef hit NZ$8.46/kg in August, up from $7.70/kg in January and $1.03/kg higher than the five-year average for the month. Forecast prices in the next two quarters will be higher than at the same time last season, driven by demand from North America and China, Alliance’s livestock manager Danny Hailes says.

Tag: Red Meat, Trade & Exports

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

UK and New Zealand agree to $1bn free trade deal [21 October, NZ Herald]

New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed on the details of a free trade agreement, covering tariff reductions, visa arrangements, and the provisions on women's rights in the workplace and for the recognition of Māori. Officials believe it will be worth NZ$1billion to New Zealand's GDP, and they estimate that the tariff elimination alone will save exporters NZ$37.8 million. The agreement is significant for both the UK and New Zealand. It is the UK's second post-Brexit trade agreement as previously, British trade rules had been delegated to the European Union.

Tag: Trade & Exports, Policy and Regulation

headline 2

'Containergeddon' drives sugar, rice shippers back to bulk vessels [23 October, Reuters]

Food traders have said they are switching back to dry bulk vessels to transport commodities such as refined sugar, coffee, rice, cotton and cocoa in hopes of avoiding shipping delays caused by container shortages. These commodities were moved by containers instead of dry bulk vessels in the past since the large boxes were reportedly more practical and offered food quality control. However, container-based transportation has been hit by sky-high costs and delays amid booming shipping demand, making them “at least temporarily” switch back.

Tag: International, Trade & Exports   


Truffle business to produce double Southern Hemisphere's current crop [21 October, Stuff]

A new large-scale truffle production enterprise, NZ Truffle Company, is expecting to produce double the current yield of the entire southern hemisphere, with its 37,500 trees. The entire crop, worth between NZ$2500 and $3000 per kilogram, will be exported to lucrative markets across Asia and Europe. The company aims to take advantage of the untapped market, enabling them to service the northern hemisphere during the southern hemisphere season as global demand and diminishing global yields continue to strengthen the market.

Tag: Farming Systems, Agribusiness

Top stories

Holy guacamole: Avocados 9c each at Hastings Pak 'n Save [21 October, Stuff]

For one day only and with purchases limited to 10, Pak ‘n Save in Hawke’s Bay is offering avocados for only 9 cents each due to a large crop and low demand from hospitality businesses due to the Covid-19 restrictions. New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said this will be one of the toughest seasons for the industry in the last decade. However, she hopes the lower prices this season will help entice customers to purchase as market research shows about 30% of New Zealanders did not buy avocados.

Tag: Horticulture, Food Marketing, Trade & Exports

Silver Fern Farms lifts minimum pay to attract and retain staff [19 October, Stuff]

Silver Fern Farms (SFF), the country’s largest meat processor, has lifted its minimum pay rate by almost 10% to help recruit and retain staff. The labour-intensive meat industry is short about 2000 workers, according to the Meat Industry Association which in August launched a ‘Meat your career’ campaign detailing the types of positions available at meat plants around the country. SFF general manager of operations Mark Leslie said the company is also working on other initiatives to clear up misconceptions of meat processing as a low-paid occupation and make SFF a more attractive workplace.

Tag: Red Meat, Agribusiness

Milk price firmly fixed [22 October, Farmers Weekly]

Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny says the solid Global Dairy Trade (GDT) results have reinforced the Westpac milk price forecast of NZ$8.50, indicating price momentum well into the latter half of the season. All dairy analysts are now predicting milk prices in the $8 range, with ASB becoming the highest. “GDT events over the first half of spring have shown no sign of demand softening and, with supply continuing to look tight, we’re comfortable making a sizable upward revision,” ASB said.

Tag: Dairy, Trade & Exports, Farmers & Producers

Drench company to cease NZ production in 2022 [22 October, Rural News Group]

Boehringer Ingelheim have said that it will stop manufacturing locally produced livestock ruminant products in New Zealand from December 2020, ending more than 50 years of local production. It says it will deliver a more 'targeted' range of cattle and sheep products, including Eprinex, Eclipse, and Bionic Plus brands. However, the company adds that some of these products will be produced locally by contract manufacturing partners in New Zealand.

Tag: Animal Welfare, Farmers & Producers, Agribusiness

Zespri slashes 2022 SunGold licences [21 October, Food Ticker]

Zespri has halved the quantity of SunGold licences it plans to release in 2022 as it looks to keep supply and demand in check and buy some breathing space as Covid-19 challenges peak over the summer season. Chairman Bruce Cameron said the decision was based on ensuring sustainable value for growers through managing supply volumes aligned with projected future market demand. Despite the short-term measure, Zespri said it remains “incredibly confident in the market demand outlook”.'

Tag: Horticulture, Farmers & Producers

Science catching up with farmers as regenerative agriculture continues to grow in popularity [23 October, Stuff]

Dr Gwen Grelet says scientists are trying to catch up as regenerative agriculture adoption has been farmer-led and has now caught the attention of multinationals, such as McCain, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, General Mills and Danone. Five reports from a series were released this month, providing insights into where regenerative agriculture is at in New Zealand and outlined the research needed in dairy, sheep and beef, arable farming, and viticulture.

Tag: Farming Systems, Environment & Emissions, Research & Development

Costs wave to break over farming [22 Farmers Weekly]

After a decade of low interest rates, the forecasted increase in the Official Cash Rate from 0.5% to 2% will reportedly be a significant component of rapidly rising on-farm inflation. In the dairy industry, 1.5% higher interest across NZ$40 billion equates to 33c/kg milksolids, or $600 million more on annual debt repayments. The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service New Season Outlook has not yet included a rise in interest rates in its farm accounts model, but it has forecasted a $10,000 increase in fertiliser, lime and seeds.

Tag: Farming Systems, Farmers & Producers

HL Rowarth re-elected to DairyNZ board [22 October, Farmers Weekly]

Dairy farmers have re-elected Jacqueline Rowarth to DairyNZ’s board at its livestreamed annual general meeting. DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the board is looking forward to Rowarth rejoining them for the next three years during an exciting phase as the board oversees the delivery of the new DairyNZ strategy for farmers. Van der Poel also announced the resignation of Jo Coughlan as an independent director, for personal reasons and to focus on other commitments.

Tag: Dairy, Farmers & Producers      

Christchurch design engineer's pasture growth system outsmarts 'bored cows’ [23 NZ Herald]

A Christchurch design engineer Richard Barton has developed a product measuring grass growth without “bored cows” breaking them, saving farmers hours of measuring pasture growth manually and providing them with a better result. Barton combined the latest advances in cube satellite imagery, remote sensors, microelectronics, and a weather-proof design to automatically record daily pasture growth on farms. About 60 of them were tested on Canterbury dairy farms over the past three years, and also in Manawatū and Waikato.

Tag: Agritech, Farming Systems

‘Something Is Really Wrong’ At Beyond Meat, According To This Investor [22 October, Forbes]

Plant-based food maker Beyond Meat had a drop of nearly 13% in their share price. This is its lowest point in almost a year and occurred after the company issued a negative third-quarter revenue outlook amid slowing growth and increased competition from other brands like Impossible Foods. The company has virtually no margin because it sells products at a loss in a bid to secure shelf space and establish brand recognition, ValueWorks founder Charles Lemonides, says, arguing that “Beyond doesn’t have any kind of competitive advantage.”

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins

‘Before the chicken and the egg, came the planet’: Meet the company selling the UK’s first carbon neutral eggs [22 October, Food Navigator]

Respectful has recently unveiled what it calls the UK’s first neutral egg into 330 Sainsbury’s stores, which is produced on free range farms that use locally grown feed, renewable energy, and white hens instead of brown breeds as they inherently have a low carbon footprint of 8%. Commercial Manager Lewis Mercieca said, “with Respectful we are offering carbon neutral eggs to those consumers who want to make choices that reduce their carbon footprint. The easier and more choices there are for consumers to do this the greater impact it will have on tackling climate change.”

Tag: International, Environment & Emissions, Food Marketing

Groundswell's Mother Of All Protests will go ahead despite Covid-19 restrictions [26 October, Stuff]

Groundswell NZ leader Bryce McKenzie says its ‘Mother of all Protests’ will go ahead next month despite Covid-19 restrictions in some parts of the country, protesting against some “unworkable” Government regulations. The group wants freshwater improvement to be managed by catchment groups, and rules about significant natural areas and the ‘ute tax’ to be re-written or abolished. The plan is for supporters to drive their utes, tractors, trucks, or cars to their nearest town centre, where the group’s statement will be played over the Newstalk ZB frequency.

Tag: Policy and regulation, Farmers & Producers

UK farming body takes aim at NZ [26 October, Farmers Weekly]

Following the NZ-UK trade deal announcement, UK-based Red Tractor expressed their concerns on social media, highlighting differences in UK and NZ farming standards, which Beef + Lamb NZ countered as wrong. Claims and counterclaims from followers on either side of the globe ranged from pictures of ewes and lambs in the snow in NZ to counters of increased disease from lambing indoors. There were also accusations of the environmental impact of shipping food from NZ to the UK and claims about the level of subsidies paid to UK farmers.

Tag: International, Trade & Exports, Farmers & Producers

Rabobank launches community fund [27 October, Rural News Group]

Rabobank has launched a new community fund to invest in the vitality of rural communities in New Zealand. The fund has come from an annual contribution from Rabobank NZ and Australia and was launched with an initial NZ$2.12 million which will be invested in a range of initiatives identified by the bank’s local Client Councils. Rabobank NZ chief executive Todd Charteris says the fund will be used to address wider challenges in agriculture and rural communities such as industry capacity, labour and skills shortages, and rural health.

Tag: Agribusiness, Rural Communities          

Costs wave to break over farming [22 Farmers Weekly]

After a decade of low interest rates, the forecasted increase in the Official Cash Rate from 0.5% to 2% will reportedly be a significant component of rapidly rising on-farm inflation. In the dairy industry, 1.5% higher interest across NZ$40 billion equates to 33c/kg milksolids, or $600 million more on annual debt repayments. The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service New Season Outlook has not yet included a rise in interest rates in its farm accounts model, but it has forecasted a $10,000 increase in fertiliser, lime and seeds.

Tag: Farming Systems, Farmers & Producers

South Island wool sale: Fine wool price highest in 15 years

A line of 13.2 micron merino hogget wool from The Bend, farmed by the McAtamney family, sold for NZ$81.80kg clean or $55.30kg greasy. PGG Wrightson South Island auction manager Dave Burridge said it was the highest price in the New Zealand auction room for about 15 years. The Bend's total hogget wool clip, including fleece and oddments, averaged $56.48kg clean, with an average micron of 13.6.

Tag: Wool, Trade & Exports, Farmers & Producers



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