Week in Review

In Aotearoa, this year has seen a 4.8% increase in the number of lambs born due to more favourable weather conditions leading to a strong lambing percentage of just under 130%. This increase in lamb numbers comes at a time when farmers are struggling with profitability, the price for New Zealand lamb has fallen this year due to softer international market demand as well as Australia’s increased supply flooding many traditional New Zealand markets. In dairy news, the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) is celebrating its 25th anniversary. DWN has made a significant impact on women in the dairy sector by fostering education, facilitating connection, and presenting leadership opportunities. Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has upgraded its milk price forecast by 25 cents to $7.50 per kg of milksolids. Chief executive Miles Hurrell attributes the revised milk price to a boost in demand for dairy products in key importing regions, particularly from China. Meanwhile, a delegation of Chinese dairy agents has visited New Zealand to better understand the dairy sector. Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited bought 16 of its largest ingredients resellers or dairy agents to visit New Zealand dairy farms, processing plants as well as visit its head office. Dairy agents make up 20% of all GDT sales of ingredients. Dr Stephen Goldson, a scientist from AgResearch has won the Supreme Winner award at the 2023 Science New Zealand Award for his work on agricultural pests, with a particular focus on three South American weevil species that arrived in New Zealand 30 years ago.

In international news, UK retailer Morrisons has become the first major supermarket chain to add a ‘buy British’ tab to its website. The move follows an open letter, endorsed by 121 MPs, for British supermarkets to make it easier for shoppers to identify and buy local products. The initiative has been welcomed by the National Farmers’ Union who praised Morrisons for leading the way in supporting British farmers and growers. In the European Union new product labelling rules for wine have come into effect this week. The new regulations will ensure consumers have greater transparency when purchasing wine and cover an existing gap between wine and all other food products, clearly stating product origin and provenance, as well as ingredients and nutritional information. Australia’s dominant supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths are under public scrutiny and will face a senate inquiry into allegations of price gouging. The inquiry was prompted after both retailers posted billion-dollar profits this financial year, prompting calls by consumers to boycott their stores. China has lifted trade suspensions on three large Australian abattoirs as trade tensions between the two countries continue to ease. Since May 2020, ten Australian abattoirs have been suspended for export into China. Other trade barriers on Australian products still apply, such as wine, lobster as well as the suspensions remaining on seven of the original suspended abattoirs.

Spotlight Stories

Food Innovation Spotlight

two people celebrating with ice cream in cones

Unilever to share reformulation patents with ice cream industry to tackle freezer emissions [9 November, Unilever]

Multinational consumer goods company, Unilever PLC announced it will grant free non-exclusive licences for twelve reformulation patents for the ice cream industry. The move follows two successful pilots to warm up ice cream freezers. Access to these patents will help ice cream products to be reformulated to remain stable at a warmer -12°C compared to the industry standard of -18°C freezer temperature. The company hopes that by sharing their patents with others in the industry, they can move to more energy efficient freezers globally. Emissions from retail ice cream freezers currently account for 10% of Unilever’s value chain greenhouse gas footprint. Unilever’s R&D have confirmed that by running the freezers at -12°C, the energy reduction is around 25% per freezer which has environmental benefits, while also making the freezers cheaper to run.

Tags: Food innovation; emissions; energy efficiency; dairy; ice cream

Carbon Credit Spotlight

overhead shot of a forest

ETS auction wipes millions of credits at year-end [December 11, Farmers Weekly]

The final Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) auction of 2023 failed to clear the 15 million carbon units (NZUs) that were on offer. These 15 million NZUs were largely made up of unsold units from the other three ETS auctions this year; and have been now been cancelled, reducing the volume in the market for 2024. After the auction’s failure, NZU prices fell by $6 a unit down to $65, which was a somewhat of a surprise to economists given the principles of supply and demand. Senior economist at ANZ, Susan Kilsby suggested there remains the need to examine our ETS market. New Zealand’s ETS market is quite different to the rest of the world in that forestry is included, creating uncertainty in NZU supply. The challenge at present is that it remains cheaper to offset emissions with trees rather than reducing emissions.

Tags: Carbon credits; emissions trading; forestry

Headline Stories

close up of a grape vine inflorescence

Irrigation technology claims to save water usage by 50 percent [13 December, RNZ]

New water saving technology is being trialled in the Hawke’s Bay this summer. Croptide have created sensors which plug into the stem of the plant, measuring water status in real time. The technology allows irrigation decisions to have greater precision. According to the company, this can reduce water usage by over 50% in some instances, while still maximising yield and fruit quality outcomes. The company has just closed a $4.25 million seed funding round for commercial pilots of their product, hoping to validate the technology this summer so it can be sold to growers as soon as possible. There has been plenty of interest to date, and Croptide has been working with a number of large New Zealand horticultural and viticultural businesses, as well as conducting trials overseas in the United States and Europe.

Tags: Horticulture; irrigation; water saving; agri-technology

close up of cows with muilking cups on their udders

Hundreds of Dutch farmers sign up to close their livestock farms under new scheme [30 November, Euronews]

The European Union has approved a €1.5 billion (NZ $2.64 billion) government buyout scheme in the Netherlands to compensate farmers who voluntarily shut down their livestock farms. Over 750 farmers have already signed up to date for the scheme which aims to reduce nitrogen emissions, out of an estimated 3,000 eligible farms. These emissions contribute to climate change and can also harm biodiversity. Agriculture plays a key role in the Dutch economy, with the Netherlands the second largest exporter globally of agricultural produce, however intensive farming has resulted in nitrogen oxide levels above EU regulations. The Dutch government’s proposals to cut nitrogen emissions have included reducing livestock numbers by a third, with this voluntary strategy aiming to buy up and halt production on farms responsible for large scale emissions near nature reserves.

Tags: Livestock farming; greenhouse gas; emissions reduction

close up of the european union flag hanging

EU agricultural outlook 2023-35: a transitioning and resilient EU farming sector will cope with challenges and embrace opportunities [December 7, European Commission]

The European Union has concluded its Agricultural Outlook conference, publishing its medium-term outlook projecting trends for the next twelve years. Their latest report highlights that climate and market conditions will continue to challenge EU farmer resilience, as well as increasing and evolving societal demands around food security, affordability, and sustainability. Milk and meat production are expected to decrease slightly over time with less stock numbers. Fallow land is expected to increase by 7 million hectares by 2035, however yields of cereal crops are expected to remain stable due to precision farming, crop rotation and improved soil health. The report highlights that climate change is expected to impact both production and quality of specialised crops including olive oil, wine, and horticultural crops such as apples, peaches, and tomatoes. Farm input costs, including energy, are also expected to remain higher than pre-2021 levels over the next twelve years.

Tags: Agricultural outlook; projections; production; climate change

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Audit – Auckland
Ian Proudfoot
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Andrew Watene

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Justine Fitzmaurice
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Hamish McDonald 

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Brent Love

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Agri-Food - South Island
Paulette Elliott
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