Week in Review

In Aotearoa, Westpac New Zealand have announced new emissions intensity targets for some agri-customers including a 10% emissions reduction for dairy farmers and 9% for sheep and beef farmers. The move is a part of Westpac New Zealand’s strategy to future-proof its customers and its own business from the impacts of climate change. The Ministry for Primary Industries will continue to conduct research on different regenerative principles that are applicable to New Zealand farms but will not regulate regenerative farms practices. Meanwhile, a New Zealand trade delegation has returned from trip to Shanghai with a signed memorandum to help enable a two-way trade of onions between China and New Zealand. Onions New Zealand, chief executive James Kuperus acknowledges there is still significant work to be done to gain sufficient market access but hopes the sector could be exporting between $50-60 million worth of onions in the next 5-10 years. In other news, Queenstown gin distillery, Broken Heart Spirits, has launched New Zealand’s first fully recyclable eco-refill pouches. These eco-pouches will reduce the distillery’s CO2 emissions by 95% whilst passing on a significant discount of 16.5% to customers.

In international news, Italian confectionery company, Ferrero Group, has listed its Australian hazelnut farm in Southern New South Wales for sale. The decision comes after a decade long pilot study that found that the climate not suitable for hazelnuts making the project no longer commercially viable. The ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia has become a chokepoint for food exports in the Black Sea region. After Russia ended the Black Sea Grain Initiative earlier this year, Ukraine must use port of Moldova, Romania to export their grain harvest which has caused significant delays with the Romanian sunflower crop. Meanwhile, farmers around the world welcome the European Union’s (EU) announcement it would renew the use of the weedkiller, glyphosate, on imported grains for another decade. The decision was not unanimous after critical EU members abstained from the vote with many countries sceptical of the impact of the chemical on human safety. The EU’s chemical regulation is a two-step process, with member states still have the right to ban products even if approved by the EU. This week, the United Arab Emirates has announced a nationwide action plan to cut food waste by 50% by 2030. The plan outlines a number of collective efforts such as creating new social norms, scaling best practices and enabling policies across the entire food ecosystem by mapping, setting goals in a formalised three-year strategy.

Spotlight Stories

Wool Spotlight

sheep on top of a hill

Wool-derived protein may help diabetes management [14 November, Rural News]

New research from Massey University and the University of Otago has provided insight into the potential of wool-derived proteins and its influence on how the body responds to insulin. The research funded through the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Smart Ideas Grant and was based on the hypothesis that the unique amino acid composition in the keratin of sheep wool, which is particularly rich in cysteine, glycine and arginine could be used to increase insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. The research involved a trial with type two diabetes participants, the wool was washed several times before undergoing a novel method involving a high-pressure microwave to break down protein into smaller pieces and make it more digestible. Participants then consumed a prescribed amount of the keratin blend and took part in a standardised exercise programme over 14 weeks. While further research is needed, initial results revealed a significant improvement in the glucose delivery from the bloodstream into the muscle. The wool derived keratin is still a prototype food product with ongoing research

Tags: Wool; diabetes; keratin

Water Spotlight

a circular ripple in a pond from something hitting the surface

Foodshot Global takes on one of the worlds most underinvested resources: water [15 November, AgFunder]

Multistakeholder investment platform, FoodShot Global has announced water as its latest challenge area for entrepreneurs and researchers to respond to. FoodShot Global view water as a critical part of the food system and believed there is a need to shift the perspective on water and better connect the management of water on land, across waterways and across the ocean. There is also a need for a greater connection between food and water as land-based agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwaters withdraws. Until recently, there was only a small number of investment funds focused on oceans and water relevant to agrifood as it difficult for investors to get a return of investment because water is a shared resource (a mixture of private, public, and international).  FoodShot will focus funding on solutions that can mitigate and adapt to the threats from climate change to the water system addressing water overuse, contamination, and unsustainable aquatic food production. This will also involve ensuring these solutions offer equitable access to aquatic food and wealth creation as many of these issues often impact communities with limited resources 

Tags: Water; investment fund; climate change

Headline Stories

sack of coffee beans spilling out onto wooden background

EU to only accept coffee exports from registered farmers [18 November, The Independent]

The European Union (EU) has announced new regulations on imported coffee beans. All coffee imported into the EU will be required to be from a registered farmer to better enable market authorities to monitor the standards of the coffee. The registration will require farmers to declare the origin of the coffee beans to ensure it does not violate environmental and human rights, for example the coffee did not come from an area that was previously a forest. This will present significant challenges for countries such as Uganda who may not meet the requirements or have the capability to implement the registration due to the nature of the country’s supply chain and farming systems where there is limited traceability.  With this change expected to be implemented by January 2025 as well as changes of the EU-Africa trade policies, there are concerns on the coffee value chain in Africa

Tags: coffee; regulations; traceability

jug of milk and a plate with a pat of butter, a bowl of yoghurt and a plate with a block of cheese

Yali Bio debuts dairy fat alternative with ice cream [14 November, Protein Production]

This week at MISTA Growth Hack, an American food tech convention, Yali Bio debuted its precision-fermented dairy fat alternative product in a dairy-free ice-cream, which was developed in collaboration with AAK, Ingredion and Givaudan. The ice cream received positive feedback with many people applauding the taste and texture of the product. Yali Bio’s new fat has a pale, buttery colour and neutral flavour and has similar qualities of regular fat, such as melting point which allows it to be tuned to a specific application. The nutritional profile of the new fat makes it an attractive alternative to dairy fat and plant-based fats as it has half the saturated fats and five times the monounsaturated of coconut. 

Tags:fermented protein; precision fermentation; dairy; ice cream

mushrooms growing on a tree trunk

TechBrew Robotics rebrands as 4AG Robotics, raises $17.5m to solve the mushroom harvesting challenge with robotics [15 November, AgFunder]

British Columbia based company, 4AG Robotics has raised $17.5 million (approx. $21 million NZD) from a series of investors including a number of angel investors from around Canada for their autonomous mushroom harvesting robot that may alleviate some labour challenges in the sector. Unlike other crops, mushrooms have a fast growth rate of 4% per hour which means it is easier to loose yield and quality if the crop is not harvested within its window, this challenge is further complicated by labour shortages.  4AG Robotics have designed a robot that scans the mushroom bed to identify when each mushroom should be picked. The robot then picks the mushroom, trims the stem and packs the mushrooms into a container ready to be sent to the retailer. 4AG Robotics have done multiple pilots on mushroom farms throughout Canada and is now entering the commericalisation stage of the business with two secured orders. The new fundings will assist the company move towards commercialisation.

Tags: mushrooms; robotic harvesting; labour shortage solutions; investment

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