Week in Review

In Aotearoa, changes to forestry regulations have been announced to reduce the damage to downstream communities from commercial forestry operations, following the harm which occurred during Cyclone Gabrielle in February. The changes include tightened rules on harvesting practices and requirements for slash removal on erosion-prone land, they will come into effect on November 2. A Ministry for Primary Industries Kūmara Seed Contingency Scheme is ensuring kūmara growers have at least 77% of their required seed as planting gets underway for the new season. Northland grower crops were devastated this year with Cyclone Gabrielle causing more than 70% crop losses; because 5% of a grower’s crop is used for seed each year, poor yields have major flow-on effects for growers. A five-year, $10 millon research programme is being funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to investigate how increasing CO2 is changing the water quality of the Waikato River. While it is understood that atmospheric carbon dioxide is acidifying oceans, the impact on freshwater is not yet known. Lincoln Agritech will lead the study which aims to develop a model to predict harmful algal blooms and the effectiveness of preventative measures. Farm nutrient loss management tool, Overseer, has been deemed fit for purpose by an independent review following a redevelopment programme over the last two years to improve and update the science used in the decision support tool’s model. The independent technical advisory group’s evaluation found Overseer is now performing well against measured losses of nitrates.

In international news, the Netherlands is dealing with an outbreak of bluetongue virus and has lost its EU disease-free status. While the disease poses no threat to humans and will not require culling of stock, over 300 farms have been identified with the virus and over 400 sheep have already died with reports of cattle with serious symptoms. Stock will require vaccination before they are able to be exported. Meat conglomerate JBS is planning to build a research facility in Brazil dedicated exclusively to food biotechnology, with an initial US $22 million investment (NZ $37.2 million). The JBS Biotech Innovation Centre will include laboratories and a pilot plant, with future plans for construction of a commercial plant within the facility. JBS has been solidifying their position in the cultivated protein sector having announced earlier this year they will begin building a lab-grown beef factory in Spain. New labelling requirements are now in place for the movement of meat and dairy products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme. “Not for EU” labels on products are now mandatory on all prepacked meat and some dairy to ensure goods are not moved onwards into the Republic of Ireland (and therefore enter the EU). The scheme came into effect on 1 October and will be implemented in three phases to July 2025, when all composite products, fruit, vegetables and fish will also need to be individually labelled.

Spotlight Stories

Food Innovation Spotlight

baby bottle and infacnt formula in a can

Danone to launch new infant formula that closely resembles breast milk in China [27 September, Food Business Africa]

Multinational food company Danone have announced a new infant formula ‘Nuturis’ which will be launched in China later this year. The new formula is designed to resemble the composition and structure of human breast milk. Danone have invested over a decade of research into understanding human milk fat globules physical structure and composition. Standard infant formula has smaller sized milk fat globules compared to human milk, as a result of processing methods. In an effort to replicate the composition and structure of human breast milk, Danone’s new blend will feature larger milk fat globules encapsulated with a phospholipid layer similar to the membrane found in human breast milk. Danone’s research including preclinical and clinical studies suggest Nuturis can be digested more similarly to human milk, and combined with their blend of probiotics and prebiotics, potentially offers improved metabolic outcomes and growth benefits. 

Tags: Food innovation; Infant Formula

Biosecurity & Pest Control Spotlight

three ants on a green leaf

Scientists use Age of Empires computer game to simulate ant warfare [3 October, ABC News]

A joint research project by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the University of Western Australia has used a children’s computer game to stimulate warfare between native and invasive ants. The human warfare detailed in the computer game, Age of the Empires, resembles ant warfare in terms of scale and mortality, and allowed mathematical models of warfare to emerge as the armies in the game behave in a simple, predictable and quantifiable way. For the study the team looked specifically at the large Australian meat ants and the small, non-native Argentine ants. The research revealed strong small ant armies did better in hard terrain, bushland for example, and weaker large ant armies did well in simple open battlefields such as an urban path.  The work could help develop new approaches to habitat management to give native ants a competitive edge against invasive species

Tags: Research & Development; Pest control; Biosecurity

Headline Stories

cargo ship carrying containers heading into horizon

Boosting food and fibre exports [3 October, Rural News]

ASB bank has launched its new ASB ACCESS Programme, designed to accelerate the growth of food and fibre businesses exports. The programme will better support New Zealand food and fibre export businesses at the critical scale-up phase by providing easier access to debt capital alongside advice, connections, and support with international trade. ASB is partnering with industry groups, government bodies, local business accelerators and global innovation platforms to facilitate this support. The programme will be taking a broader approach to lending, beyond the traditional risk and return measures. With backing from the ASB ACCESS programme, ASB will support innovative and sustainable food and fibre entrepreneurs to scale up to meet export market demand. The programme will initially be piloted with six eligible food and fibre businesses, with the intention for expansion if the pilot is successful.

Tags: Exports and trade; Finance solutions

hotdogs on a table with mustard and red sauce

The Cultivated B Initiated Pre-Submission Process towards EFSA Certification for Cultivated Sausage  [14 September, The Cultivated B]

Biotech company, The Cultivated B (TCB) will become one of the first companies to apply for European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) certification for cultivated meat. TCB have officially entered the pre-submission process for the novel food approval of a non-farmed sausage product. One of the most significant challenges for the cultivated meat sector is scalability and viability, TCB’s application for EFSA certification opens the door for large-scale commercial production. The cell-based sausage product for which TCB is seeking EFSA certification is similar to the boiled sausages used in hot dogs. It is a hybrid product composed of vegan ingredients including substantial amounts of cultivated meat. Receiving EFSA certification indicates meeting the highest European food safety standards whilst laying the groundwork for global regulatory approvals. 

Tags: Cultivated meat; Food safety; Regulations

close up of a small sprout growing out of soil

This ag-tech startup kept digging, and found an electrifying idea to zap weeds and soil pests [2 October, GeekWire]

Lisi Global, a US-based start-up, offers farmers an alternative to traditional pesticides by replacing chemicals with devices that zap soil pests, such as nematodes, and weeds with a jolt similar to a controlled lightning strike. Lisi has tested its technology in field trials on golf courses, potato farmers, and most recently with the Massachusetts railroad. There is strong demand for Lisi’s technology as farmers continue to experience challenges with nematodes, and traditional pesticides kill indiscriminately, require withholding periods post-treatment and carry a soil erosion risk. The market for weed control could be huge too, with US railroad companies using three times as much glyphosate as farmers to control weeds. The team are now working to raise a seed round of venture capital to accelerate their work to offer farmers a blanketed, soil-based approach to pest and weed management.

Tags: Agri-technology; Pest control; Weed control

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