Week in Review

In Aotearoa, Nestlé New Zealand welcomed Fonterra Co-operative Group’s plan to reduce 30% of its on-farm emissions by 2030. Nestlé CEO, Jennifer Chappell commented that this move will encourage greater action by New Zealand farmers. Fonterra Co-operative Group’s plan is closely aligned with Nestlé targets to reduce its absolute emissions by 20% by 2025, then 50% by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050. This week, a $15 million, joint funded project by New Zealand Apples and Pears Incorporated and MPI’s sustainable food and fibre futures fund was announced to assist industry achieve its goal of being a global leader in sustainable practices by reducing chemical reliance in fruit production. Rural insurer FMG Insurance has resolved 80% of 11,622 claims and paid out over $228 million following the events of Cyclone Gabrielle and te Auckland Anniversary weekend earlier this year. These two events were the largest disasters FMG Insurance has faced in its 118-year history. While there are still clients facing uncertainty around their homes and businesses, FMG’s recovery manager encourages people to take the time to understand future risks. Meanwhile, residents of Piha and Comvita, a producer of mānuka-based products, have come together to plant 600 native seed patties after cyclone Gabrielle significantly compromised hillsides in the area. Each patty contains native seeds including mānuka, potting mix and clay. Once the mānuka grows it should help stabilise the damaged terrain.

In international news, a Mexican Agri- Fintech startup, Verqor, has raised US $7.5 million (NZ $12.4 million) in funding to connect more farmers with credit using its alternative underwriting process. More than 90% of Mexico’s farmers lack access to formal financing. Verqor will use the capital to become a direct financial lender to farmers and approve loan applications based on a tailored criteria as opposed to criteria used by traditional banks. Chinese economists have raised concerns as falling pork prices may push the country back into a deflationary situation. This is a result of the major pork companies flooding the domestic market with product causing a sharp downturn in pork prices. The wholesale pork prices in China have dropped by over 40% in 12 months. Danish animal nutrition and health company, DSM have partnered with Sustained’s software service to deliver a ‘farm to fork’ platform that will allow consumers to see the full life cycle of food products. The agreement is the first of its kind for sustainability database targeted at farmers, processors, food manufacturers and retail brand owners. The British government have launched a £1 million programme to boost dairy exports. The programme hopes to provide targeted support for UK dairy businesses to capture current export opportunities as well as access new markets by supporting trade promotion activity, trade missions and a new UK dairy showcase. Meanwhile, authorities in the United Kingdom have confirmed a case of bluetongue virus (BTV). The virus is transmitted by midge bits has been identified through an annual BTV surveillance programme.  Although the virus does not affect people or food safety it has the potential to be fatal to livestock and cause significant productivity issues.

Spotlight Stories

Cultured Meat Spotlight

dog poking its head out of a white door

Czech firm Bene Meat gets EU registration for lab-grown meat for pet food [10 November, Reuters]

Czech start-up, Bene Meat Technologies has gained European Union registration for their cultured meat products for use in pet food. Globally, only the US and Singapore have given regulatory approval for cultivated meat (meat grown from animal cells in laboratory conditions) for human consumption. Bene Meat has focused its attention instead on the pet food sector, seeking to deliver a product that can be marketed to global pet food producers as a raw material for inclusion in their final products. Their product was registered in the European Feed Materials Register. Next steps for the company include taste-testing the product with animals and scaling up production to several metric tons per day in 2024. Bene Meat says it can offer prices to make the product commercially viable, with final products to sell around the premium and super premium price level for pet food products.

Tags: Cultured meat; lab-grown meat; petfood

Apiculture Spotlight

honey bee close up flying around lavender

Buzz around new centralized pollination portal for better global bee data [2 November, Science Daily]

A new centralised tool is consolidating global bee pollinator occurrences, bringing together over 18 million occurrence records from multiple public and private databases. The package, called BeeBCD, complements existing tools and will improve the accuracy and accessibility of species data globally for use in future farm management, conservation, and research work. With many species of food crops depending on pollination from both honeybees as well as over 4000 species of wild bees, the dataset will help support plant and crop production in the future. Pollinating insects are under mounting pressures, and this dataset will also be used as a reference point for biodiversity analysis. 

Tags: Apiculture; big data

Headline Stories

bunch of white wine grapes

Tech aims to boost grape yield forecasting [10 November, Farmers Weekly]

Researchers from University of Canterbury have been awarded a five-year $6.1 million grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to investigate a new approach to grape yield prediction. Forecasting grape yields is difficult currently, and inaccurate estimates can be costly to producers. New Zealand’s wine industry exported $2.4 billion in the year to May 2023, one of the country’s most valuable horticulture sectors. The researchers will develop a new approach to yield forecasts blending 3D-imaging-based detection with a physiological growth prediction model. Project lead, Professor Richard Green, believes the project may go further than forecasting grape yields, even resulting in increased average yields, and improving operational and financial planning for businesses. The project could also have broader implications for the wine industry, potentially accelerating vineyard automation, and climate resilience. 

Tags:viticulture; agri-technology; robotics

beer being poured from tap into a pint glass

Free Glass Flagon Scheme Launches Nationwide [9 November, Pursuit of Hoppiness]

A new scheme has been launched in breweries across New Zealand to provide customers with glass flagons for takeaway beer. Sustainable packaging technology company, Again Again, is delivering the scheme, backed by government funding through the Ministry for the Environment’s Plastics Innovation Fund. Customers can use an app to rent a free, returnable 1-litre glass flagon, which they can then fill with beer and take home to drink. Like library books, if the flagon is returned on time or reused, users will not be charged. The free container creates a no cost, low barrier operation for customers. Reusable glass is beneficial to the environment as traditional glass and can recycling methods are energy-intensive and expensive. Thirty-six breweries are currently taking part in the scheme, but Again Again’s CEO expects this number to grow in the future. 

Tags: circular waste; beverage industry

various fish on ice for sale at a market

NEOM and BlueNalu Forge Strategic Partnership to Revolutionize Sustainable and Secure Food Ecosystem [31 October, NEOM]

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s NEOM has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BlueNalu, a global leader in cell-cultured seafood. Their partnership aims to progress commercialisation of BlueNalu’s products. They aim to develop solutions that increase food security and increase access to healthy foods in both Saudi Arabia and globally. The MoU includes establishment of an incubation and food innovation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia. NEOM Investment Fund recently invested US $20 million (NZ $34 million) into BlueNalu, funding which will enable progress toward scaling up and commercialising their cell-cultured seafood products. NEOM (meaning ‘new future’) is a sustainable regional development currently under construction and development in the northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Tags: cell-cultured protein; seafood; aquaculture

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