Week in Review

In New Zealand news this week, Global Dairy Trade auction prices have risen again - increasing 4.3%, the Impossible Burger lands in New Zealand eateries, and a new tech partnerships shows promise with a Farmax, FarmIQ and Agresearch relationship established in the agricultural farm-systems software industry.  

Internationally several deals are announced this week, including a USD$65m raise for UAE indoor farming business Pure Harvest, a USD$65m raise for plant-based chicken producer Daring Foods as it launches at Walmart in the US, and a USD$4m seed-funding raise for Carbon neutral company Neutral Foods. 

Article of the Week

This week’s Field Notes article Jack Keeys shares some of New Zealand’s food price and health statistics, and question what the real opportunity cost is for feeding our country’s domestic market.

You can access the article here.

Spotlight Stories

Research & Development Spotlight:

Start-up ‘cracks the breast milk code’ to make human milk proteins for everyone, not just babies [29 October, Food Navigator]

Israeli start-up Maolac is leveraging artificial intelligence to develop human milk proteins for the food industry, with an artificial focus on sports nutrition. The novel product is reportedly made up of two elements: active protein with a specific indication, and a unique absorption system. “Maolac is using computational biology to extract active immunological factions from milk and its derivatives for specific applications that enhance the immune system of humans and animals based on pre-clinical trial and known immunological cascades,” the start-up explained.

Tag: International, Food Innovation

Agritech Spotlight

FarmIQ, AgResearch join forces [28 October, Rural News Group]

FarmIQ Systems and state-owned AgResearch have formed a strategic partnership to create more value for pastoral farmers, after FarmIQ acquired decision-support tool Farmax from the SOE. AgResearch director of technology and digital services Greg Rossiter says the decision was made as part of the CRI's commitment to providing the agricultural industry with quality science and software-based decision support tools. FarmIQ plan to invest the capital and provide the infrastructure to take Farmax to the next level, which was not considered AgResearch's core business.

Tag: Agritechnology, Agribusiness, Farmers & Producers

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

Food Hui: Aotearoa food system kōrero to kick-off [02 November, Food ticker]

During EatNZ’s Food Hui this week, further announcements were made by KPMG’s Ian Proudfoot on the Mana Kai Initiative - national dialogue aimed at improving New Zealand’s food system. A Leadership group representing communities across the food system and supported by The Aotearoa Circle and KPMG as secretariat have developed a Mana Kai framework which will be a central part of the upcoming conversations held by the group across the country.

Tag: Farming Systems, Rural Communities

headline 2

Pāmu and Westpac ink ‘green’ loan [27 October, Rural News Group]

Westpac NZ and Pāmu claim they have signed New Zealand’s most comprehensive Sustainability-Linked Loan to date, the largest in the agricultural sector of NZ, and the first involving a state-owned enterprise. Pāmu will reportedly borrow NZ$85 million from Westpac NZ over three years and will receive a pricing discount if it meets material and ambitious performance targets or pay higher interest costs if it fails to reach them. It is also the first loan in the agricultural sector to include a 1.5 degree Science-Based emissions reduction target that will be validated against global best practice.

Tag: Agribusiness, Environment & Emissions


NZ start-up empowers Kiwis to grow-their-own vegetables, with seed delivery service and world-first digital tools [28 October, Idealog]

The one-stop digital platform PlantMe.io, launched in 2019, showcases its new innovative seed delivery service and digital growing guide complete with a world-first rewards system. PlantMe founder and CEO Fliss Roberts says, “the idea is to encourage more people to get growing at home as meaningful climate action while also improving nutrition, health and wellness and your bank balance.” PlantMe has also added new features showing each subscriber’s climate impact and dollar savings when they log plants, progress and record harvests with pictures.

Tag: Food Innovation, Environment & Emissions     

Top stories

‘Humble’ onion to undergo extreme makeover [28 October, Behive]

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced the Government’s plan to invest NZ$2.83 million into a six-year programme to enhance the competitive advantage of New Zealand’s onion industry called “Humble to Hero: Transforming the New Zealand Onion Industry.” O’Connor says, “the programme complements our Fit For a Better World roadmap to increase exports, lower emissions, improve the environment and employ more people in the food and fibre sector – helping to boost economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Tag: Horticulture         

Lockdown drives Countdown, e-commerce Q1 sales surge [28 October, Food Ticker]

Woolworths’ New Zealand Food division saw an increase in sales to NZ$2.06 billion for Q1 FY22, up 9.7% on the same quarter last year. The Australian-based group says it was “partly driven by the resurgence of Covid in the community in mid-August,” and the improving underlying customer demand and higher inflation contributed to the result. The group’s e-commerce division in New Zealand surged 17.4% to $270m. Countdown sales increased by 8.3% to $1.62bn over the quarter, with SuperValue, FreshChoice and other revenue collectively up 11.7% to $169m.

Tag: Food Retail

ComCom hearing: The problem with profit [28 October, Food Ticker]

The fourth Commerce Commission hearing found that the lack of competition in the supermarket duopoly resulted in excessive profits being made. It estimated a return on average capital employed for Woolworths, Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island of 21%, 24%, and 22%, respectively. This compared with international grocery retailers sitting at around 11%-12%. Both supermarket groups argue that, even if their returns were normalised, food prices would not decrease as the amount of money being spent on putting food onto supermarket shelves will not change.

Tag: Food Retail, Policy and Regulation

UAE indoor farmer Pure Harvest nets $65m to fund Asia expansion [28 October, AgFunder News]

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Pure Harvest Smart Farms raised US$64.5 million in a funding round led by South Korean investment manager IMM. Pure Harvest operates three indoor vertical farming facilities in the UAE with a further two under construction in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. “We will use the proceeds to fund our existing projects, to drive R&D initiatives, and to expand our team, while at the same time seeding a beachhead in Asia,” said chief financial officer Tariq Sanad.

Tag: International, Food Innovation, Farming Systems

Carbon-neutral company Neutral Foods raises $4m in seed funding [28 October, Foodbev Media]

US carbon-neutral company Neutral Foods has raised US$4 million in a seed funding round, bringing its total funding to US$4.8 million, led by sustainable investment company Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mark Cuban Companies. Neutral Foods works with dairy farmers to implement strategies aiming to reduce carbon emissions from the production of its Neutral organic milk. Its funding will be used to expand the company nationally, drive sustainability awareness and the trialling of the brand, as well as make direct investments with farmers on projects to reduce carbon emissions.

Tag: International, Environment & Emissions, Farming Systems

Working Together To Increase Forestry Value And Create New Jobs [27 October, Scoop Independent News]

Tupu Angitu Ltd, the commercial arm of the Lake Taupō Forest Trust, and NZ Bio Forestry Ltd have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding which they hope will increase the value of the forestry estate, create new regional jobs, and achieve a zero-carbon footprint. NZ Bio Forestry Ltd aims to establish as many as 12 bio-facilities across New Zealand. “The resources are here, the market demand is growing, and the technology is available. It’s time to stop talking about transformation and start making it happen,” NZ Bio Forestry CEO Wayne Mulligan says.

Tag: Forestry, Rural Communities     

ArborGen to sell Australia & NZ units to Hugh Fletcher consortium for $22.25m [01 November, Stuff]

Tree seedling company ArborGen has agreed to sell its New Zealand and Australian assets to a consortium of NZ investors, including charitable trusts and private families led by Hugh Fletcher, for NZ$22.25 million. The company produces around 30 million tree stocks a year in New Zealand and 5.5 million in Australia and would require “significant” additional capital to expand capacity, ArborGen chairman David Knott said. He added that the board believes the money would be better spent in its higher growth markets in the United States and Brazil. It would also use the funds to explore new growth opportunities and repay debt.

Tag: Forestry, Agribusiness   

Farmers warn of looming food supply issues [31 October, One News]

Farmers are facing mounting costs and delays in accessing agricultural chemicals, which could cause a flow-on effect of higher prices for consumers, says reporter Whena Owen. Most of New Zealand’s agricultural chemicals come from China, however, plants throughout China are closing as they reduce coal supplies and grapple with an energy crisis. Amidst this problem, global supply chains are under extreme strain with ports around the world being clogged up, Owen adds.

Tag: Agribusiness, Farmers & Producers, Farming Systems

Southern Field Days cancelled for 2022 [01 November, Stuff]

Southern Field Days has cancelled its event planned (first time in 40 years) for February 2022 due to the Covid-19 uncertainties. Southern field days committee chairman Warren Ross said if they had gone ahead with some expenses and the event did not go ahead, it could have been financially crippling. The committee also wanted to make the decision early to allow exhibitors, volunteer groups and local businesses time to plan for other opportunities. The committee plans to hold the event again in February 2024.

Tag: Agri-events, Rural Communities

Nutrient technology trial companies selected [01 November, Farmers Weekly]

The first five companies selected for the Farm2050 Nutrient Technology Trialing Platform are ClimateAi, CropX, Eko360, Pastoral Robotics and Phospholutions Solutions. The initiative aims to solve the challenges of feeding a global population of 10 billion people with deep technological solutions to create greater sustainability and nutrition outcomes. “All five of the companies we’ve selected have demonstrated remarkable promise as critical nutrient management technologies that will ease the transition to productive and profitable food production systems with low environmental impact,” chief agronomist Michael Pereira said.

Tag: Agritechnology, Environment & Emissions        

No fishy business: Sealord says it didn't suggest freezer grab to Foodstuffs [01 November, Stuff]

A deal that would have seen Sealord supply 90% of Foodstuffs North Island’s frozen fish range was the supermarket chain’s idea and not its own, Sealord chief executive Doug Paulin says. Paulin indicated he believed the supply offer might have been illegal had Sealord proposed it off its own bat, given its dominant position as a supplier to the market, but it had not done so. Negotiations between Foodstuffs and Sealord will instead see the New World and Pak ‘n Save franchise owner reduce the range of Sealord products it stocks.

Tag: Food Retail, Fisheries, Food Marketing

What happens when a new supermarket company comes to town? [31 October, Stuff]

Reporter Brittney Deguara says German supermarket Aldi’s entry into Australia’s duopoly in 2001 forced a change in its competitors. Prices dropped and customers were given a different experience – more affordable options, deals, and innovations. A new entrant in NZ could prompt the same kind of price wars as in Australia and result in technological innovations, Deguara says. Dr Bodo Lang from the University of Auckland thinks online-only supermarkets could pick up momentum as a third big supermarket and change the supermarket industry.

Tag: Food Retail, International

Under new ownership, Villa Maria captures a global market [31 October, Stuff]

After seven years as chief operating officer at Tor Wines, a winery globally renowned for its single vineyard chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, Matthew Deller made his move to Villa Maria in January 2020. After a roller-coaster journey, he’s perfectly placed to oversee the first global launch of its global single vineyard series of wines from 1 November. Deller says, “there’s no other winery in New Zealand that makes the calibre of wines that Villa Maria does and that’s not going to change in under the new ownership.”

Tag: Viticulture, Trade & Exports

Daring Foods raises $65M and launches at Walmart [28 October, Food Dive]

Plant-based chicken maker Daring Foods has raised US$65 million, bringing the total raised to more than US$120 million, in a Series C funding round led by Founders Fund and D1 Capital Group as well as popular athletes and celebrities. Daring Foods plan to launch this month at 3,000 Walmart locations, doubling its retail distribution and online services. Its four varieties of plant-based chicken pieces (Original, Lemon & Herb, Cajun and Breaded) have reportedly 10-14 grams of protein per serving and are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium than the animal counterpart.

Tag: International, Alternative Proteins 

Banana price war in UK supermarkets is hurting farmers, growers warn [30 October, The Guardian]

According to a joint statement from Latin American producers and exporter associations, the major supermarket chains are ignoring the impact of higher raw material and freight costs because they want to offer the “cheapest bananas on the market”. The region’s biggest grower Clúster Bananero del Ecuador said, “the supermarkets, led by the German supermarket Aldi, are unwilling to compensate for this increase in costs, something that seriously harms banana producers and exporters who are forced to bear the full cost increase.”

Tag: International, Rural Communities, Food Retail, Rural Communities

Funding flurry in agritech sector [04 November, Farmers Weekly]

Chief Executive of Agritech NZ Brendan O’Connell has shared his insights into the industries recent investment activity across all size of investments. Recent investments include a $US10 million raise for electric bike company UBCO, NZD$3.5m for orchard software business Hectre, and the recent sale of specialty monitoring equipment company Bluelab. O’Connell stated “more NZ tech firms have tipped beyond the startup phase to expansion, growing international recognition of this country’s expertise at developing new tech…”

Tag: Agritechnology

Impossible Foods brings its meat-free burgers to New Zealand [04 November, Stuff NZ]

The plant-based burger from US based Impossible Foods has launched in New Zealand today (Thursday 4th November). After being available on Air New Zealand’s Business Premier cabin between Los Angeles and Auckland, this is the first time the product will be available at eateries in Auckland, Mt Maunganui and Christchurch. The genetically engineered imitation blood ingredient was approved by Food standards Australia New Zealand in December 2020.

Tag: Alternative Proteins

Significant increase in global dairy prices overnight [03 November, NZ Herald]

The Global Dairy Trade auction has seen another increase, rising 4.3% at the latest auction. Whole Milk Powder has increased 2.7%, skim milk powder 6.6% and cheddar a significant 14.1%. The current midpoint of Fonterra Co-operative Group’s farmgate milk price forecast is still $8.40/kgMS.

Tag: Dairy, Trade & Exports

Soaring Wheat Prices Are Raising Bread Costs [03 November, Bloomberg]

Wheat prices have now broken a record in Europe and is resulting in increased bread prices across most of the world. Despite upcoming large crop volumes in Argentina and Australia, it is expected that supply will not be enough to ease the current demand pressures. Carlos Mera, head of agricultural commodities market research at Rabobank in London commented on one of the triggers, explaining “the higher the price goes, the more fear there is in the market and the more panic buying.”

Tag: Horticulture, International



Once-hot food and beverage IPOs lose their sizzle as investor enthusiasm fades [02 November, Food Dive]

Twelve out of thirteen food and beverage IPOs or mergers from the past 16 months are now trading below the price from their initial market listing. Some notable inclusions are the significant Swedish oat milk company Oatly that has reduced about 25% , Dole down from $16.00 to $14.60, and a 76% drop for AppHarvest. The only company to have increased is yogurt-maker Sovos who’s shares have increased 35% since going public.

Tag: International, Agribusiness

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Jack Keeys

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Hamish McDonald 

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