Week in Review

In Aotearoa, to help with the cost of living, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (Te Pukenga NMIT) have launched a new six-month programme. It offers practical education on how to grow and maintain a garden to help families living in Blenheim, Kaikoura, and Richmond save money and eat healthier. In the Hauraki Gulf, NIWA is investigating causes of milky white flesh syndrome in snapper, which can cause nutrient deficiencies. NIWA fisheries scientist, Dr Darren Parsons, said this syndrome has been reported in halibut in Alaska, but is relatively new to New Zealand. Overfishing, or the result of El Nino and La Nina climate cycles changing nutrient availability, have been suggested as possible causes to the condition. Food safety tests have shown the fish with this syndrome are safe to eat. Waikato maize growers have had a challenging season with the combination of cyclones, crop variability and weed infestations leading to estimates that the average crop yield is down 2 tonnes per hectare from previous years. Waikato Federated Farmers arable chair, Keith Holmes, says quick decision making and agility will continue to be essential as winter approaches with all its associated challenges.

Internationally, the European Commission have been investigating fraudulent honey. Of the 320 samples tested, 46% of these products were suspected to be adulterations of honey (using sugar syrup). In Western Canada, Up Vertical Farms has begun operations at their hands-free vertical farm, growing sustainable, pesticide-free, and contamination-free baby salad greens. With yields of 350 times conventional field grown greens, Up Vertical Farms expect annual production to be approximately 900 tonnes, with the ability to fully customise products to suit retailers and restaurant needs. In Italy, to safeguard the country’s agri-food heritage the government has approved a bill banning the use of laboratory-produced food and animal feed. The move has upset cell-based agricultural organisations and animal rights groups across Europe.  Government Minister, Francesco Lollobrigida, stated “Laboratory products in our opinion do not guarantee quality, well-being and the protection of our culture, our tradition”. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s administration has pledged to protect Italy’s food from technological innovations they deem harmful, reflected in their renaming of the agriculture ministry to the “Ministry for agriculture and food sovereignty”. 

Spotlight Stories

Forestry Spotlight


Log prices up but local market ‘oversupplied’ [28 March, Farmers Weekly]

The effects of Covid-19 lockdowns are still being felt in the sawmill industry, with mills operating well below capacity due to weakening domestic demand for lumber. At the same time, demand for export-grade saw logs has risen by 14% due to increased demand from China. However, this demand is still below normal levels for this time of year. Oversupply of structural products in the construction sector has led to most log processors operating below capacity. Despite prices currently holding, spot discounting for more products is possible, although price increases for sawn timber sales in Asia could offset this.

Tags: Economic & Trade, Forestry 

Food Innovation Spotlight


3D-printed chocolate and cream cheese reveals links between taste and texture [27 March, Food Navigator]

Researchers have found that altering a 3D-printed food’s structure can change how we taste. In an experiment, different chocolate and cream cheese structures were 3D-printed to generate various textures, 120 people then tasted the structures. The results showed that the arrangement of the two different masses affected how much people liked them due to differences in mouthfeel and taste. The study highlights the connection between the texture and taste of food and the importance of visual appearance, texture, and aroma in creating flavours.

Tags: Food Innovation, Research & Developments

Headline Stories

NZ’s first commercial vertical farm gets $3.5m govt boost [23 March, Farmers Weekly]

New Zealand’s first commercial vertical farm, Greengrower, is being backed by the government through a Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFFF) fund programme to test its capability as a food producer. Greengrower currently has one tunnel (production line) running and produces around 4,000 bags of leafy green vegetables a day, using 1% of the water used in outdoor farming. The company plans to complete two further tunnels this year, which will deliver the equivalent production of a 150-hectare farm. As well as testing Greengrower’s capability as a food producer, the second phase of the SFFF trial will look at more plant varieties in an indoor setting such as berries, peas, beans and native pōha. 

Tags: Horticulture, Research & Development

US sugar buyers rush to contract sugar for 2023/24, report shows [30 March, Reuters]

American sugar users are increasing their purchases of beet sugar for the upcoming season, despite high prices, due to concerns over global supply. Beet sugar sales in March reached 75-80% of projected 2023/24 US production, compared to only 40% a month earlier. Past adverse weather and uncertainty in planted areas have caused the push for processors to guarantee their supply. US sugar supply has been tight since 2020, pushing prices up. Refined beet sugar was offered for up to US$0.61 per pound on the West Coast, while the global benchmark refined sugar is trading at around US$0.28 per pound. 

Tags: International

Zero Egg Launches ‘New and Improved’ Plant-Based Egg Patties into US Food Service [24 March, Vegconomist]

Zero Egg, a food tech startup, has announced the launch of a more "egg-like" version of its plant-based egg patties. The product offers a more realistic taste and texture, with less fat and calories than leading egg patty alternatives. The new product, developed using past research from the company's food scientists in Israel, transforms Zero Egg's liquid format into a patty with an airier texture. Zero Egg produces innovative egg alternatives using a proprietary blend of plant proteins and has raised over US$5 million in funding since its establishment in 2020. 

Tags: Food Innovation 

Get in touch


Audit – Auckland
Ian Proudfoot
09 367 5882
Agri-Food – Auckland
Andrew Watene

09 367 5969
Management Consulting – Wellington
Justine Fitzmaurice
04 816 4845
Private Enterprise – Hamilton
Hamish McDonald 

07 858 6519
Farm Enterprise – South Island
Brent Love

03 683 1871
Agri-Food - South Island
Paulette Elliott
+64 2788 61744

Field Notes Administrator
Demosson Metu
+64 9365 4073