Week in Review
In Aotearoa, the wool industry appears to be experiencing a positive turnaround with both demand and pricing increasing since September. A significant improvement in quality of the wool is causing the shift, as well as the presence of new international buyers driving up competition and prices. Despite the positive trend, the wool market is still some way away from profit-making sustainable levels. Concern is being raised over the new process to fast-track work visa applications of skilled migrant workers, with worry that the delays will lead to worker shortages in the new season particularly in the meat industry and rural contracting. The Accredited Employer Workplace Visa applications are taking between six to 10 weeks to process, which is slower than the previous work visa process. Three newly funded biosecurity projects have been announced to strengthen New Zealand’s border security against pests and pathogens that could harm the primary industries. The new projects will explore ways to safely increase importation of plant tissue culture, and prevent pests, weeds and diseases entering via international travellers. The third project will look to develop a semi-automated approach to pest risk analysis as climate change brings new pests, diseases and weeds to New Zealand.
In international news, twenty-eight representative organisations from the global leather industry will take a manifesto to this year’s COP28 climate summit asking policy makers to recognise the sustainability of their product. Their manifesto calls for support of natural fibres like leather, promotion of slow fashion, and the use of life-cycle assessments to accurately account for environmental impacts. The European Union has voted a draft regulation which will tighten its position on keeping products made using forced labour out of the EU market. The legislation provides a framework to investigate supply chains. If proven to have used forced labour within its supply chain, all import and export of related goods will be halted. Goods that have already entered the EU market would have to be withdrawn and either donated, recycled or destroyed. China has announced it will begin a review into the tariffs imposed on Australian wine and whether they should be lifted. The Australian wine industry says this review is a welcome first step. In return, Australia has agreed to halt its action against China with the World Trade Organisation. In the Netherlands and Belgium, McDonald’s and dairy cooperative, FrieslandCampina, have announced a collaboration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy supply chain. In alignment with both companies’ 2050 climate goals, the partnership will aim to cut emissions in the production of dairy suppled to McDonald’s restaurants in these two countries. Grocery retailer, Whole Foods Market, has announced its 10 food trend predictions for 2024. Forecasted trends include plant-based seafood, the use of buckwheat as a protein rich and gluten-free ingredient and a popularity of brands promoting water conservation.
- Could wool woes be washing away at last?
- Job check is delaying the visa process, says sector
- New biosecurity research protects border and empowers industry and communities
- Leather industry to crack the whip on sustainability at COP 28
- EU set to ban products made with forced labour
- China wine tariff review welcomed by Australian producers, but they say the future is still uncertain
- McDonald's and FrieslandCampina join forces to cut GHG emissions
- Whole Foods outlines 2024 food trends
Gabrielle took a bite out of hort exports [24 October, Farmers Weekly]
The newly released Fresh Facts 2023 report on fruit and vegetable production in New Zealand has highlighted the impacts of cyclone Gabrielle on the sector this year and the efforts to mitigate future risks. Overall, the report revealed a mixed year for New Zealand’s produce exports; total fresh produce exports in 2023 totalled $4.5 billion, compared to close to $5 billion in 2022. The report noted that the cyclone had a material impact on 45% of apple orchards in the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. Despite this impact on the apple industry, exports lifted by $4.4million on the previous year, as other key regions were unaffected. The lucrative squash crop was also affected by the cyclone, with total the total crop area planted nearly half usual allocation, and the volume exported half the typical 32,000 tonnes. The report also highlighted shifts in planting patterns with land allocated to process potatoes decreasing by 20%, but area in table potato production increasing. Over the past five years total potato production in New Zealand has fallen by nearly 2000ha and 108,000 tonnes of produce.
Tags: Horticulture; Exports; Cyclone Gabrielle
Alternative Protein Spotlight
Tyson Foods partners with insect ingredient company Protix [19 October, FoodBev Media]
American food multinational, Tyson Foods has made a two-fold strategic investment into a global insect ingredients company, Protix. The partnership will combine Tyson’s scale, experience and network with Protix’s technology and market leadership. CFO of Tyson Foods, John Tyson said “The insect lifecycle provides the opportunity for full circularity within our value chain, strengthening our commitment to building a more sustainable food system for the future”. Tyson Foods will acquire a minority stake in Protix through a direct equity investment, in addition, the companies have entered into a JV for the construction and operation of an insect ingredient facility in the United States. The facility will be the first at-scale facility of its kind to upcycle food manufacturing byproducts into high quality insect proteins and lipids. These ingredients will be used in the petfood, aquaculture and livestock industries.
Tags: Alternative Proteins; Insect Protein
Carbon sequestration: Southern Dairy Hub’s soil experiment [7 October, NZ Herald]
An experiment in soil carbon measurement is being conducted at the Southern Dairy Hub near Invercargill. The research hopes to provide information on carbon sequestration on New Zealand dairy farms and is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Strategic Science Investment Fund. While there has been research conducted into carbon concentration levels in farmed soils, there is a lack of data on amounts of carbon mass. The Southern Dairy Hub is a 350ha research farm which has been divided into four units operated under different winter management practices. The experiment will provide data on the amount of carbon stored across a variety of soils and farming practices, from winter cropped to permanent pasture. A hydraulic soil coring machine has taken samples in 44 paddocks at the hub down to 600mm
Tags: Soil carbon; Research & Development; Carbon sequestration
Moolec Science raises $30m to expand molecular farming operation [19 October, AgFunder]
Moolec Science, an ag biotech startup, has raised US$30 million (NZ$51.3 million) in cash and in-kind contributions. The company is best known for its molecular farming platform, which has bioengineered plants, like soybeans, to express bovine and porcine proteins. Recently Moolec revealed it had produced ‘ Piggy Sooy’ soybeans, which have 26.6% of their soluble protein fraction as ‘pork protein’. Moolec does not intend extracting and purifying the meat proteins from the plant protein, which would be very costly. It will sell its ingredients as hybrid products – with plant and animal proteins together. The funding raised will be used for further R&D projects, product development initiatives, and the company’s commercialisation plans
Tags: Cultivated animal protein; Agrifood innovation; Biotechnology
‘Nature’s ninjas’ could shield fruit and bees [24 October, Farmers Weekly]
A team of scientists from the Universities of Canterbury and Otago have been awarded $8.9 million from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for a five-year trial to investigate whether phage ‘cocktails’ can be used to combat key agricultural pathogens. Phage biocontrols are viruses that attack specific bacteria in an organism. This differentiates them from antibiotics which usually kill beneficial bacteria as well as the harmful ones. The research pathogens will include kiwifruit vine canker (Psa), and the American Foulbrood virus that attacks honeybees. Research will also be conducted into phages that affect cherry and kiwifruit pathogens. While New Zealand’s primary sector faces a decreasing supply of sustainable solutions to combat pathogens, its geographical isolation does provide an advantage and far fewer numbers of pathogens exist in New Zealand compared to the native habitats of species, meaning that use of phages is potentially a viable solution.
Tags: Plant disease; Research & development; Biological control
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