Week in Review

In Aotearoa it is hoped that the government’s recent pledge to use natural fibres in its buildings will provide a boost to the strong wool market. Chief executive of Bremworth, Greg Smith, said the huge number of government-owned buildings, many of which are under construction, renovation or refurbishment, could help increase demand for wool, and hopefully kickstart a price recovery for the industry. Greenpeace has launched an interactive tool called the ‘Know Your Nitrate Map’ which indicates the level of nitrate in drinking water sources. To build their dataset, Greenpeace offered free water testing of bore water for rural areas, including through community testing events and a mail-in testing service. New Zealand drinking water standards have a maximum allowable value of 11.3 mg/L for nitrate, a limit set by the World Health Organisation. A new report published by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority has shown that up to 72% of the energy needs of the top of the South Island (Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough regions) could be met using biomass by 2037. The region has already begun transitioning from fossil fuels to biomass, and this latest report suggests the forestry sector could play a key role in supporting the transition. New Zealand has joined 133 other countries in signing a United Nations COP28 declaration on sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems and climate action. The agreement recognises both the threat global food systems face, as well as acknowledging the role food production has in reducing emissions.

In international news, coinciding with the United Nations COP28 summit, global dairy company, Danone has announced a partnership with the Global Methane Hub to reduce methane emissions in the dairy supply chain. The Enteric Fermentation R&D Accelerator has raised US $200 million (NZ $326.3 million) to date, and Danone becomes the first corporate sponsor to the partnership, their involvement also includes a pilot project involving 1,000 farmers in Morocco. China’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs has released a new report on their agricultural consumption and trade outlook through to 2032. The report suggests a continued reliance on imports for dairy and red meat, however this demand for imports will eventually taper off as the projected growth in domestic production outpaces growth in consumption. The United Kingdom, Irish and Northern Irish governments have announced joint investment of £60 million (NZ $123.2 million) to create two co-centres to bring academics, industry, and policymakers together for collaboration on food sustainability and climate change. The centres start work on 1 January 2024 and are funded until 2030. They will work to address issues like sustainable food supply, biodiversity and climate change with research and tools for practical solutions.

Spotlight Stories

Red Meat Spotlight

two red meat steaks on a wooden chopping board

Alliance invests in technology to identify meat quality [1 December, The Country]

Red meat co-operative, Alliance Group Limited is partnering with Australian agri-tech provider MEQ to use artificial intelligence (AI) across its facilities to measure the quality of meat produced. The lamb and beef probe technology will use machine learning and AI to measure the intramuscular fat levels in lamb and marbling percentages in beef. The co-operative says the technology will provide real-time views of the eating quality of the meat produced; and will provide objective, measurable data it can give its farmers on the quality of the meat they are supplying. This information will enable farmers to make informed decisions around breeding programmes and feed inputs.

Tags: Red meat; agri-technology; artificial intelligence; quality

Rural Wellbeing Spotlight

two farmers catching up with each other over a stock race railing

New rural wellbeing project [5 December, Rural News]

A new wellbeing project has launched in New Zealand aiming to support rural communities recovering from a tough season. ‘Checking-in’ is being run by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust, Rural Women New Zealand and Farmstrong, with support from the Rural Support Trust; and is funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries as part of the North Island Weather Event response. The project centres on a series of community events across the North Island, which include comedy events, personal development programmes and Christmas events. Rural people are also encouraged to subscribe to the weekly 15-part online short video series on wellbeing resilience from rural leaders and resilience experts. Event information and a link to subscribe for the weekly email series can be found here.

Tags: Rural wellbeing; resilience

Headline Stories

school of fish swimming shot from below

Research finds exercise regimen for fish could help satisfy world's growing hunger for seafood [2 December, ABC News]

Research from Australia’s Murdoch University suggests that the growth rates of farmed fish can be boosted by ‘exercising’ the fish, potentially offering a way to boost the world’s seafood supply. The report collated data from 69 different studies, covering 31 species of fish identifying that exercised fish experienced a 10% increase in their growth. Exercising the fish can occur through the simple and cost-effective creation of a water flow. Most fish when placed against the flow have an immediate response to swim against it. The effect of using water flow, does not require any additional feeding compared to fish in still waters as the fish grow faster and are equally efficient at converting food into mass gain. Researchers are now looking to test the exercise regime at scale with the aquaculture industry. 

Tags: Aquaculture; research

winebottles with little yellow bows on their necks

Diageo partners with EcoSpirits on new circular packaging solution [30 November, FoodBev Media]

Global alcoholic beverage company, Diageo, has partnered with EcoSpirits, a circular economy technology company, to pilot and scale circular packaging in 18 markets over the next three years. The collaboration will use EcoSpirits’ 4.5 litre EcoTote which functions like a keg and is able to be collected, cleaned and refilled for re-use. The EcoTote is designed for up to 150 uses and aims to replace the consumption of 1,000 glass bottles during its lifespan, reducing waste and carbon emissions. Initially the collaboration between Diageo and EcoSpirits will focus on Diageo’s Gordon’s gin, Captain Morgan rum and Smirnoff vodka brands. 

Tags: Beverage sector; circular packaging; waste reduction

deer in a paddock

Deer industry in limbo after China changes import rules [1 December, RNZ]

An announcement from China has left the deer industry uncertain about the future of deer velvet. From May 2024, China will stop accepting frozen velvet imports, and only dried products will be accepted into their traditional medicine market. Last year New Zealand exported around $70 million in deer velvet, 65-75% of this was in frozen form. Initially wanting to halt imports of frozen velvet immediately, a transition period has been negotiated with Beijing authorities for May next year. Efforts are underway to establish whether New Zealand exporters will be able to send frozen velvet into non-pharmaceutical markets in China, and whether the May deadline might be pushed out further so as to not impact the 2024-25 deer industry season. The impact of this change in import regulations is not expected to impact future demand at all but may mean processing capacity for drying needs to be scaled up over time.

Tags: Deer industry; exports; velvet; regulations

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