Week in Review

In Aotearoa a joint venture between the Sustainable Nutrition Initiative of the Riddet Institute and iwi group Wakatū Incorporation has secured more than $10 million in funding for a research project aiming to future-proof and protect New Zealand’s food systems and the environment. The five-year project, Kai anamata mō Aotearoa, will identify equitable and resilient food systems to reduce vulnerabilities to climate change and economic pressures. An interactive model will be developed to help decision-makers visualise the problem of weighing the many trade-offs of changes to the food system and support them to transition to a carbon-neutral economy, whilst ensuring the wellbeing of people and the environment. Fishing company Sealord has entered into an agreement to buy Independent Fisheries. The sale, subject to regulatory clearance from the Commerce Commission and the Overseas Investment Office, would include a quota of 46,000 metric tonnes, three factory fishing vessels, more than 500 staff and a cold storage facility. Newly published research by DairyNZ has shown that on-farm actions have helped improve water quality across five catchments in the country over the last 20 years. The work was part of an Our Land and Water study to analyse historical data and found that over the 20-year monitoring period, 70% of in-stream water quality trend directions were improving or showed no change. The median levels of most contaminants in water had also decreased.

In international news, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, US dairy farms are facing an 81% year-on-year income drop. This decline this is almost double that expected in the poultry and pork sectors (-43% and -39% respectively). The US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry is concerned by the trend, attributing it to rising production costs and falling commodity prices, and is suggesting federal support could reduce the declines. Two cargo ships arrived in the Ukrainian seaport of Chornomorsk last week, using a temporary Black Sea corridor established by Ukraine after Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain agreement. The voyage is risky due to sea mines, and the Russian Defence Ministry has said it would regard any vessels headed to Ukrainian ports as military targets. Heineken Mexico is planning to invest €430 million (NZD 773 million) to establish a new brewery in Yucatán, scheduled to begin operations in 2026. The facility will use advanced processes to minimise waste, maximise water reuse and utilise renewable energy. The new brewery is expected to create over 2,000 direct and indirect jobs. UK supermarket retailer, Sainsbury’s has launched a new range of beef products, Aberdeen Angus. The retailer says it is the UK’s largest low carbon beef range and offers a 25% lower carbon footprint compared to the industry standard and comes after a decade of development and five years of production.

Spotlight Stories

Shipping and Supply Chain Spotlight

cargo container ship leaving port

Pioneering wind-powered cargo ship sets sail [21 August, BBC News]

A cargo ship fitted with rigid sails, designed to reduce fuel consumption and reduce carbon emissions has set off on its maiden voyage from China to Brazil. The Pyxis Ocean, chartered by shipping firm Cargill, will make the trip in the first real-world test of the WindWings viability. With the shipping industry responsible for around 2.1% of carbon dioxide emissions globally, it is hoped that returning to traditional methods of ship propulsion could support the industry in its efforts to decarbonise. The sails are made of the same materials as wind turbines for durability, are 37.5m tall, and open out when the ship is in open water. If successful, using wind power rather than engines alone might reduce a cargo ship’s lifetime emissions by 30%. 

Tags: Shipping; Greenhouse gas emissions; Renewable energy

Horticulture Spotlight

close up of a leaf showing its veins

Researchers recruit bacteria to prevent plant fungal diseases [21 September, The Country]

Lincoln Agritech scientists have been successful in winning a $1 million contract with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to develop weakened variants of disease-causing fungi to prime plants and protect them against fungal diseases. The scientists believe that altering the bacteria associated with disease-causing fungi will lead to new crop protection strategies. Previous research from the group found that bacteria associated with a fungus affect its ability to cause disease. They will work with scientists from Scion, Utrecht University in the Netherlands and the Foundation for Arable Research to test the concept on brassica plants initially. Once proven, it will be applied to cereal and other horticultural crops. The new approach would not only protect New Zealand horticulture and agriculture industries, but provide an export opportunity to meet the growing demand for non-chemical disease control.

Tags: Research & Development; Horticulture; Disease control

Headline Stories

close up of two ears of wheat in amongst a wheat field

Pilot to turn cocoa shells into low carbon fertiliser [12 September, World Fertilizer]

A two-year trial to explore whether cocoa shells can be used as a low-carbon fertiliser is underway in the United Kingdom in a collaboration between Nestlé UK and Ireland and Cargill. The supply chain trial will seek to recycle nutrients from waste streams within the food system to lower the supply chain’s carbon emissions. Cocoa shells will be supplied by Cargill who process the cocoa for Nestlé, the shells will be processed and pelletised into fertiliser by CCm Technologies and then used as fertiliser for Nestlé UK’s wheatgrowers. The fertiliser’s performance in terms of wheat yield and quality, soil biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions will be evaluated. If successful, the trial could result in 7000 tonnes of low carbon fertiliser, equating to around 25% of Nestlé UK’s total fertiliser use for wheat.

Tags: Research & Development; Regenerative agriculture; Fertiliser; Emissions

bottles lined up on a table

Refilled launches initiative to save 100m single-use plastic bottles from vending [15 September, FoodBev]

A Sydney-based climate tech start-up, Refilled, has launched an initiative to reduce single-use plastic waste caused by the vending machine industry through a BYO-bottle system. Recently partnering with two Australian universities, they are replacing vending machines with their ‘Refillers’ – a machine that is a blend between a fridge and a giant SodaStream that offers customers chilled still and sparkling drinks in a variety of flavours. The start-up has the goal to build and install 100 Refillers machines by 2024 and eliminate 100 million single-use plastic bottles by 2030. 

Tags: Plastic waste; Recycling; Beverages

fish farm out in fjord

Researchers nurture periwinkles in lab for first time, look toward new aquaculture business [14 September, PhysOrg]

For the very first time researchers have succeeded in hatching and raising periwinkles in the laboratory. Researchers at Norwegian science institute SINTEF Ocean are hoping their success will be the potential for a new aquaculture business and reduce pressure on wild populations. Periwinkles are a delicacy popular in France, Spain and Portugal, the price per kilo for living periwinkles is similar to that of salmon. Currently periwinkles are not farmed commercially anywhere, requiring people to go out and gather the molluscs along the shoreline. SINTEF's research aims to create conditions for commercial periwinkle farming, including encouraging the molluscs to reproduce in artificial environments.

Tags: Research & Development; Aquaculture

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Audit – Auckland
Ian Proudfoot
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Andrew Watene

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Justine Fitzmaurice
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Hamish McDonald 

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Brent Love

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Agri-Food - South Island
Paulette Elliott
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