Week in Review

In Aotearoa in the latest Global Dairy Trade auction this week, dairy prices have risen for the fourth time in a row. Prices increased by 4.3% overall, with whole milk powder increasing by 4.2% to surpass the ‘psychological threshold’ of US$3000 per metric tonne. This news will hopefully lift farmer spirits, as the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence survey was also released this week and farmer confidence has fallen to its lowest reading in the 20-year history of this survey. Lower commodity prices have emerged as the primary source of farmer concern, with 77% of respondents expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to worsen over the next 12 months. Beef + Lamb New Zealand is inviting farmers to take part in a facial eczema study by collecting sheep faeces. Facial eczema is caused by a toxin-producing fungus found in pasture, the toxin causes irreversible liver damage in livestock. Beef and Lamb estimate the annual cost of the disease to pastoral production systems is $332 million. The three-year study aims to understand the prevalence of the disease, its impact and its spread in warmer weather. Foundation for Arable Research has opened a research hub in Southland which will double as a demonstration site. The 2ha site in Knapdale will research crops such as barley, oats and wheat for the region’s soil and environmental conditions.

In international news, discount grocery retailer, Lidl Germany has announced that nearly all of its own-brand vegan range, Vemondo, will be priced equally to animal-origin products and will be placed in direct vicinity to animal-based counterparts in all of their stores. This price adjustment is designed to invite customers to try the plant-based alternatives without price being a barrier to their decision. Lidl already offers over 650 vegan items and their sustainability strategy, released this year, states the company will focus on reducing animal-based products and increase plant-based offerings. In the European Union, member states have failed to reach an agreement on renewing glyphosate approval for another 10 years. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide, and is currently only approved for use until 15 December 2023 in the EU. As the European Commission’s proposal to renew the licence failed to reach the qualified majority of member states, it has now been submitted to the Appeal Committee with a vote expected in November. Dutch start-up Metable has announced its intention to start selling laboratory-grown pork products as early as the second quarter of 2024. The company has developed a one-third cultivated meat, two-thirds plant-based hybrid pork product and is looking to scale up its process in Singapore while it waits for regulatory approval to begin selling the product from the Singapore Food Agency. Metable has secured US$95 million (NZ$161 million) in funding which it is using to develop manufacturing capability in the United States and Singapore.

Spotlight Stories

Viticulture Spotlight

rows of wine vines in a vineyard

Hemp Study: Vineyard cover crop works well [11 October, Rural News]

Newly released research has found that growing hemp between the rows of grape vines can benefit soils and wines. The research was carried out over three years in Marlborough on Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, with industrial hemp sown as a cover crop. The hemp was able to establish itself without irrigation, flourishing even in a dry season when other cover crops failed. The hemp plant tap roots were able to grow in compacted tractor wheel tracks, which could alleviate the impact of compaction on soil from vineyard operations. The hemp did not compete with the grape vines, but brought benefits to the soils and the wines. Soils from the hemp area had higher organic matter and total carbon, and the juices from adjacent grapes had higher populations of native yeast, and produced a higher quality wine than vines that were not in proximity to the hemp. 

Tags: Viticulture; Industrial Hemp; Soil health; Cover crops

Biosecurity Spotlight

blue and red vertical dna structure with chemical formulas in background

Scientists have a clever new playbook to control - and conserve - the possum [18 October, NZ Herald]

New Zealand scientists have constructed the entire genetic code of the brushtail possum. The five-year study has revealed new insights into the species population diversity, reproduction and origins. It is hoped the results of the five-year study detailing where and when genes are expressed can help efforts to control the marsupial in New Zealand, while simultaneously supporting their conservation in Australia. As bovine tuberculosis carriers, possums threaten biosecurity and trade. The genomic sequencing could lead to more targeted and efficient eradication methods, with the study already identifying scent genes which may be able to be used to lure possums towards traps. In the longer term it may lead to the possibility of altering their genes to control their fertility.

Tags: Biosecurity; Genetics; Possums

Headline Stories

sheep grazing on a cliff

Biodiversity credits to fund land use? [18 October, Rural News]

New Zealand farmers are being prompted to diversify their farm systems to meet environmental expectations, but funding to make the changes isn’t always easily accessible. This could be because the land-use change is less financially viable, or the land and enterprise doesn’t fit traditional debt models. Results of a new Our Land and Water National Science Challenge study has found that a market for biodiversity credits may be crucial to helping farmers fund land-use change to meet environmental targets. Conducted by Perrin Ag and GHA Chartered Accountants and Management Consultants, the study evaluated 17 different funding models to support land-use change. The researchers ran a series of workshops with farers and experts to understand barriers to land-use change and potential financing solutions to overcome them. The creation of biodiversity credits stood out to researchers as having the most potential as a solution. 

Tags: Biodiversity; Land-use Change; Sustainable Finance

deer in green bush poking its head out

Jimi Biotech Develops World's First Deer Antler Stem Cell Line [22 August, Green Queen]

A Chinese cultivated meat start-up, Jimi Biotech, has shifted from edible meat products to developing the world’s first deer antler stem cell line. Their latest development, using cells taken from the tip of a Sika deer antler, is driven by their artificial intelligence system, JEVOS, and makes the company capable of mass-producing deer antler cells. Deer antlers are valued as a premium health product in China where they hold significant cultural and dietary importance, having been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Jimi Biotech is focused on premium ‘new forms’ of meat due to the cost constraints associated with cultivated animal proteins. Having previously launched China’s first scaffold-free cell-based chicken and first cultivated beef in 2022, they have shifted to premium products to justify premium pricing.

Tags: Cultivated animal protein; Deer

container cargo ship on water

Better quota system for exports [17 October, Rural News]

A new quota management system for dairy exporters is underway, although the government has warned it will be at least a year before it comes into force. Currently quota allocations are based on each dairy company’s share of milksolids, and this system has been in place since 2007. The new system will be based on each company’s share of total exports by volume of each relevant product, including to non-quota markets. This change will also open up quota access for non-bovine dairy exports, such as sheep and goat products. The changes are being designed to ensure a fair dairy quota system that provides opportunities for all, including small businesses and Māori enterprises, and it is hoped it will boost the $26 billion dairy export economy. 

Tags: Trade & Exports; Dairy

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