Week in Review

In Aotearoa, avocado growers are experiencing a record low season. Export volumes are at their lowest ever levels, with approximately one million trays less than last season. The season has been described by Avocados New Zealand as a ‘perfect storm’ with weather, export market competition and continuously rising input costs colliding.  Meanwhile, fruit marketer ENZAFruit has won a landmark plant variety rights infringement case in China.  Local growers were found to be illegally growing the Envy apple variety, one of New Zealand’s leading apple varieties. Livestock Export New Zealand (LENZ) has launched a $1 million advocacy campaign to assure the public of animal welfare standards in the industry and reverse the ban on live exports. Increased demand for large cuts of venison in North America has resulted in top prices at elk and wapiti deer stud sales in the South Island last week. In the Bay of Islands New Zealand’s first mechanised Caulerpa (seaweed) suction dredge is in its first week of operation to combat the invasive pest seaweed. The $650,000 government-funded trial is expected to transform what would otherwise be a labour intensive and inefficient weed management method.

In international news, researchers from the World Weather Attribution have said climate change, and not El Niño was the primary driver of last year’s severe drought in the Amazon. The drought was the combination of reduced rainfall and hotter conditions that evaporated moisture from the soil. Hundreds of river communities required deliveries of food and water to get through the drought. Officials in parts of Northern California have declared a state of emergency due to an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak. In the past two months, nearly a dozen commercial farms have lost more than a million birds in attempts to control the disease. In China, official data from the Chinese government has stated the Chinese economy has surpassed its target of 5% annual growth for 2023, recording an annual growth of 5.2%. China’s economy for the last quarter grew at a quicker than expected rate due to favourable macro regulations, strong domestic demand, and a boost in consumer confidence. In international shipping, the initial surge in shipping rates experienced due to many containers ships rerouting around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope in response to the Red Sea conflict appears to be plateauing. The industry expects further stabilisation this year as the industry adjusts to the longer routes.

Spotlight Stories

Apiculture Spotlight

a shot of honey jars

Mānuka: Strong genetic difference between NZ and Australia plants – research [25 January, RNZ]

Research from Plant and Food Research has indicated that mānuka plants from Australia and Aotearoa are different, recommending that they should be called different names. Researchers analysed 2000 variable DNA markers called Single DNA Letter Changes (SNiPs) from mānuka plants from Tasmania and New Zealand. Results showed that the Tasmanian populations are genetically diverse from New Zealand populations. The Australian industry have argued that their honey can also be called manuka since it is from the same species of trees. However, The Mānuka Charitable Trust have said that Mānuka is a recognized treasure (Taonga) under the Treaty of Waitangi and can only be sourced and produced in New Zealand. In 2023, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand declined The Mānuka Honey Appellation Society's proposal to trademark Mānuka. Nevertheless, this new research could aid similar trademark cases in the EU and UK

Tags: Mānuka; apiculture; trademark; geographic provenance

Food Waste Spotlight

man looking at tablet in a food processing factory standing behind a conveyor belt of fruit

Frozen cherry processing pilot underway this summer [22 January, Central Otago District Council]

Eden Orchards, a family-owned business operating out of Alexandra, Central Otago, has received funding to trial production of individually quick frozen (IQF) cherries. The trial is a result of previous collaborative initiatives by the Central Otago District Council, industry, growers, and food manufactures to avoid waste and make use of locally grown fruit. Annually an average of 2,207 tons of Central Otago cherries go to waste due to defects. This number is expected to increase as new plantings reach peak production. Frozen cherries hold several of the health benefits of fresh cherries but most of the frozen cherries sold in New Zealand are imported. The pilot aims to develop a process that can de-stem, de-pit and individually freeze cherries at a commercial level. 

Tags: Horticulture; food waste

Headline Stories

bottles of wine in factory to be filled

Marama Labs raises €1.75m for scale-up of hazy wine analysis technology and life-sciences market entry [22 January, Marama Labs]

Marama Labs, a New Zealand deep-tech start-up specialising in the chemical analysis of complex liquids, has raised funds of €1.75 million (NZD $3.1million) to scale up their patented CloudSpec spectroscopy instrumentation and cloud software data analytics tools. Their technology allows the analysis of opaque liquid samples in a fraction of the time it currently takes. The CloudSpec technology can give a busy winemaker colour and phenolic data - insights that were previously too expensive, time consuming and complex - on their wines at critical stages of production. As a result, winemakers using CloudSpec can make informed decisions around blending, vintage consistencies, consumer targeting and new brand development. Marama Labs are also broadening their applications into the life-science market where opaque liquid analysis is a major hurdle for drug discovery, quality assurance and process monitoring. 

Tags: Wine; viticulture; start up; seed funding

a close up of kiwifruit halves

Two kiwifruit a day keeps the blues away [26 January, Farmers Weekly]

Newly published research out of the University of Otago has indicated that having two kiwifruits improved vitality and mood within as little as four days. Vitamin C has been linked to improved mood, vitality and wellbeing but there remain gaps in knowledge as to how quickly this improvement occurs. The study explored this by conducting an eight-week dietary intervention involving 155 adults with low vitamin C. As part of the dietary plan, participants either took two kiwifruits, vitamin C supplements or a placebo daily. The results showed that kiwifruit consumption improved mood and vitality within four days peaking between 14-16 days while the vitamin C supplement only slightly improved mood until day 12. Researchers indicate that although vitamin C tablets show some improvements, there are synergistic effects of consuming whole foods like kiwifruit. 

Tags: Horticulture; kiwifruit; health benefits

a overhead shot of solar panels with the sun shining in background. the image has a purplish tinge to the colouring

Snacking on Air: Fazer Unveils Vegan Bar with Solein in Singapore [19 January, Green Queen]

Two Finnish companies, Solar Foods and Fazer Group, have partnered to release a limited-edition snack bar utilising the air protein, Solein. Singapore has been the chosen launch city-state due to its innovative food ecosystem and passionate people about nutrition, new foods and sustainability. This is also the first time Solein will be available as a Fast-Moving Consumer Good (FMCG) making their retail debut 16 months after receiving regulatory approval. Solein is created by fermenting microbes with carbon dioxide, oxygen and hydrogen which replaces sugar as an energy source. There are benefits with greenhouse gas emissions as well as having a strong nutritional profile. As a result of its success, they’ve been able to secure funding of €8 million (NZD $14.1 million) to support the construction of a commercial factory. 

Tags: Alternative proteins; food innovation

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