Week in Review
In Aotearoa scientists have extracted collagen from starfish for use in skincare products. In a partnership between mana whenua, Waikato University, Cawthron Institute and Plant & Food Research, the project sought to find a use for the starfish decimating mussel beds in Ōhiwa Harbour. The Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme is moving into a new phase, with non-profit Ospri taking over management of the programme from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). MPI will continue handling non-operational aspects such as compensation and compliance action. There will be no increase to levies collected to cover the cost of the programme. Red meat industry export returns for Q3 this year are down 21% on last year. Farmers are seeing the overseas market weakness reflected in lamb schedule prices that are falling earlier and further than previous forecasts. Global market demand is also being further stressed by record volumes of Australian lamb. The Ministry for the Environment has released a document outlining the government’s definition for food loss and waste in New Zealand. The document will enable the establishment of a baseline measurement for New Zealand, to support government initiatives meet national commitments for food waste reduction targets. While the upcoming El Niño weather pattern is raising some concern for the pastoral sector, blueberries are likely to have a very good season. Blueberries are the second most popular berry in New Zealand after strawberries. The nation’s strawberry supply has been impacted by the wet weather at the start of 2023 as fruit entered the propagation stage meaning this summer’s supply will not be as plentiful.
In international news, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Food Consumer Observatory released results of a new study on food label products. The study found that over two-thirds of the 10,000 European consumers surveyed would welcome a universal eco-label on food products. There are currently no internationally agreed standards for environmental sustainability, and over 450 sustainability logos in operation globally with at least 230 in Europe. France looks to become the world’s leading wine producer for 2023. Italy has been the world’s leading wine producer since 2007, however the Italian industry had a smaller grape harvest this past year, after being particularly hard hit by mildew this year. The Welsh government announced a £1 million (NZ $2.1 million) fund to support new projects which can reduce ammonia emissions, a primary pollutant emitted by agricultural activities. The world’s largest science park owner, Tus-Holdings is exploring opportunities in New Zealand. The Chinese-owned company have signed a memorandum of understanding with chair of the council of NEXT Foundation (and former NZ ambassador to China) to explore joint construction of science and technology industrial parks in New Zealand, Australia and China. A UK-based packaging company, Notpla has been recognised by the Dutch government as the first and only completely plastic-free packaging in the Netherlands. Notpla uses natural extracts found in seaweed without any chemical modification for their products.
- Starfish powered skincare
- M bovis cattle disease eradication programme enters surveillance phase
- Plenty to bleat about as lamb price tumbles
- Food loss and waste definition for Aotearoa New Zealand
- Blueberries tipped for bumper season
- Europeans hungry for universal eco-label on food products amid responsible purchasing confusion and mistrust
- France is back on track to become the world's leading wine producer, ahead of Italy
- Welsh government unveils £1m to support projects reducing ammonia
- Global science park leader eyes NZ opportunity
- Notpla’s seaweed-based F&B packaging lands first-ever EU “plastic-free” certification
Food Systems Spotlight
The World's Broken Food System Costs $12.7 Trillion a Year [6 November, Wired UK]
A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) highlights the impact of the world’s food system on human health and the planet. The report estimates the total hidden costs of the world’s food system is US $12.7 trillion dollars (NZ $21.4 trillion), roughly 10% of the global GDP. The agrifood system faces several challenges, and this report aims to put a price tag on the true cost to our health, society, and environment. The biggest impact of the food system is on health, with 73% of all the hidden costs accounted for in this report from diets that lead to obesity or non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Impact on the environment was the next largest, accounting for 20% of the quantified costs. The hidden costs of food systems vary from country to country with impacts in low-income countries relating mostly to poverty, compared to higher income countries where over 80% of these costs are related to unhealthy diets.
Tags: Global food system; hidden costs; environmental and human health impacts
Farmers urged to prepare for a different kind of summer [1 November, Farmers Weekly]
Farmers across New Zealand are being warned to prepare for a “different kind of summer’, with different regions expected to experience vastly different weather patterns. Overall, this summer’s forecast is for a strong El Niño weather pattern bringing intense and frequent west and southwesterly winds. Gisborne and the Hawkes Bay are expected to see extended high temperatures over the next six months with the eastern South Island experiencing these highs to a lesser degree. Meanwhile, Southland, Otago and Westland are likely to face cooler temperatures and higher than average rainfall. Northland to Waikato is likely to experience modest summer rainfall. However, experts are warning even with modest rainfall, soils will likely be dry due to the strong winds which will strip moisture from the soil. Farmers are urged to make the most of the early season soil moisture and pasture growth to maximise feed availability for the subsequent months
Tags: Producers; climate; weather patterns
Crete to host first European centre for aquatic animal welfare [26 October, Euractiv]
The Greek Agriculture Minister and EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner have announced the first European Reference Centre specialised for aquatic animal welfare will open on the Greek Island of Crete. The centre will be one of four European Reference Centres that provide technical support and coordinated assistance to EU countries for animal welfare. The University of Crete has been selected to lead and host the Reference Centre along with participation from the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the University of Barcelona. This recent announcement marks the first such centre focused on aquatic animal welfare, with the other three centres established for the welfare of pigs, poultry and small farmed animals, ruminants, and equines.
Tags: Animal welfare; aquatic animals; aquaculture
Australian trade negotiators have been unable to make progress with the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union. This announcement came after the Australian trade minister held talks with EU representatives in Osaka, Japan in October. The Australian government has said it will only sign a deal with the EU if the deal is in the national interest, a key demand being greater access for Australian agricultural exports. Australia is seeking better access for beef, sheep, dairy and sugar exporters. Both the EU and Australia have accused the other of being unwilling to compromise, with the Australian agriculture minister saying the EU was a “very protectionist market” with respect to agriculture. The collapse of the deal will set Australia back on their ‘trade diversification strategy’ as the government continues to urge exporters to spread their risk across a range of different markets, including China.
Tags: Trade; Free trade agreement; European Union; Australia
Low-income countries could lose 30% of nutrients like protein and omega-3 from seafood due to climate change [30 October, Science Daily]
A new study published by the University of British Columbia suggests the nutrients available in seafood could decrease by 30% in low-income countries by the end of the century due to climate change. Researchers used historical fisheries and seafood farming databases to calculate the amount of key nutrients available in the past and used predictive climate models to project future availability. They focused on calcium, iron, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, four nutrients plentiful in seafood and important to human health. The study found by 2100 availability of all four nutrients is projected to decrease, particularly calcium, which had a 15-40% projected decline. The decrease in nutrient availability is largely driven by amounts of pelagic fish available for catch. While seafood farming will contribute more of these nutrients in the future than current levels, this will not offset the loss from fisheries. Nations in tropical waters (typically lower incomes) are likely to face more severe declines in nutrient availability than those in higher income, non-tropical waters.
Tags: Research; nutrient avaialability; seafood; aquaculture
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