Week in Review

In Aotearoa, Zespri International Limited has released its final forecast for the 2023/2024 season with record per tray return.  Green kiwifruit has been forecasted at NZ $9.44 per tray, significantly up from last season’s orchard gate return (OGR) of NZ$5.78 per tray. Zespri International Limited CEO Daniel Mathieson has attributed the improved returns to an increase in fruit quality and strong consumer demand for kiwifruit globally. Meanwhile, improved consumer demand has led Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited to lift the forecast price for organic milk from NZ $9.55/kg milk solids (MS) to NZ $9.85/kg MS. The demand comes from the United States and the United Kingdom where they sell 90% of their product. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has approved a genetically modified banana for sale as food in both countries. The announcement has come after Australia’s Queensland University of Technology received a grant to commercially cultivate genetically modified banana plants resistant to the fungal Panama disease. Livestock Improvement Corporation Ltd (LIC) announced an investigation after a bacterial contamination caused semen quality issues, the contamination impacted over 1,100 stud cows. LIC offered credit and goodwill packages totalling NZ $2 million to affected farmers to support their recovery. LIC chief executive, David Chin said they are “focused on implementing the recommendations of the investigation to reduce the likelihood of this ever happening again”. Earlier this week, the finalists for the 2024 Ahuwhenua Trophy for excellence in Māori farming were announced at a special function at Parliament. With this years’ competition focused on the top Māori dairy farm, the finalists are; Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation, based in Mangakino; and Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board, based in Opotiki.

In international news, fishing restrictions have been implemented in South Australia after the deadly abalone viral ganglioneuritis disease was detected near Port MacDonnell. The virus impacts the molluscs’ nervous system and kills 90% of diseased abalone, and whilst the disease has not been detected in other marine species it has the potential to spread. British packaging company Mondi have said their customers are reluctant to change to sustainable packaging due to cost considerations. There has been a push for consumers to shift away from traditional plastic packaging to a more sustainable product. However, as a result of the turbulent operating environment, progress to move to a more sustainable alternative has been slow, mostly due to the high cost. In 2022, 82% of Mondi’s revenue came from their reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging and paper products. A part of the United Kingdom’s Brexit agreement includes a new food labelling system. All meat and dairy products made in the United Kingdom will have a  “Not for the EU” label to stop these products from being sold in The Republic of Ireland and other countries within the European Union. A new poll by Survation, on behalf of anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain has revealed this labelling system has caused confusion as almost one in five Britons are less likely to buy food labelled this way. Consumers are confused as the product still meets the food standards of the EU. The poll also suggested this confusion is contributing to the decrease in consumer confidence around the country which is expected to cause a financial strain on British farmers and retailers.

Someone writing in a notebook outdoors


Share your views on Training and Assessment in the New Zealand Food and Fibre Sector

KPMG is pleased to be assisting The Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence (FFCoVE), Muka Tangata and Te Pūkenga on a project to review and provide recommendations on the delivery and assessment practices in vocational educational training across the New Zealand food and fibre sector.

The project seeks to identify aspects that could be improved in learning delivered through a food and fibre sector qualification and is seeking your views on how learning is conducted at your learning organisation, for your job, or in the industry you work with.

Please use this link to complete the survey which should take approximately 10 minutes. [Link here]

This survey will close at the end of the day on Tuesday 5th March.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this project please contact Jackie Lynch, from The Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence on JLynch@foodandfibrecove.nz  

Spotlight Stories

Biodiversity Spotlight:

A close up image of a flower starting to bloom on a tree shoot

Horticulture and agriculture will benefit from null segregants re-classification - scientist [23 February, RNZ]

The Environmental Protection Authority will re-classify organisms known as null segregants, no longer considering them genetically modified and lifting the restrictions on their usage.  Null segregants originate from genetically modified plant or animal organisms, however they do not contain the genetic modification. With this change null segregants can be used for various applications such as accelerating selective breeding, where the timeframe to produce desired properties in plants would reduce from twenty years to four years. The new decision offers certainty for primary industry researchers as well as the alignment of New Zealand with other OECD countries, keeping pace with international research.

Tags: organism; GMO; regulation

Inovation Spotlight:

a gold bowl with chocolate in it surrounded by cocoa beans

California Cultured Joins Forces with Japanese Chocolate Giant Meiji for Cell-Based Cocoa Products [12 February, Green Queen]

A partnership between Sacramento-based food tech company, California Cultured, and Japan-based chocolate company, Meiji, will see the pair become the first to release a cell-cultured chocolate product into any market in the world. Samples are collected from cocoa plants which are then harvested for cells. These cells undergo growth in fermentation tanks that resemble rainforest conditions where cocoa thrive. Within the space of three to four days, the cells are ready for harvesting, fermentation and roasting. Cell-cultured cocoa innovation is key, with dark chocolate number two on the list of top greenhouse gas emitting foods. The 10-year deal will see California Cultured supply cell-cultured cocoa powder to Meiji as part of a co-branded collaboration tailored for the U.S. and Japanese markets. 

Tags: Chocolate; fermentation; cells

Headline Stories

A jar of honey

New Zealand scientists developing laser to kill pests ravaging honeybee colonies [12 February, Newshub]

Researchers and Professors from Plant and Food Research and The University of Auckland are collaborating on a five-year project to develop a cost-effective tool that beekeepers can use to protect bee colonies from mites without using pesticides. They are experimenting with various lasers to disable and eliminate varroa mites that cling to bees, and prevent them from entering, damaging and infesting hives. One of the challenges will be developing a device that is easily placed in a hive and does not impact the movement of the bees. A $1 million grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Endeavour Fund is supporting the project with ambitions to have a device ready for New Zealand and abroad by 2028. 

Tags: honey; laser; beekeepers

A bunch of grapes hanging off a tree

Fruit orchards get boost in yield from simpler architecture [22 February, RNZ]

Plant and Food Research has developed a new orchard planting system which is being trialled by Central Otago Fruit growers. Currently, trees are grown in rows with a three-dimensional structure and spaced out about 3-4 metres apart. Some of the issues with this method is access to fruits which tend to be hidden and the inefficient use of sunlight used to grow grass in the spaces between the rows. The new planting system aims to bring tree rows closer together in a two-dimensional structure to optimise sunlight penetration and free up space to add more rows. Moreover, the new system has made it easier for automation and the use of robotics in assessing fruit development. The trials have shown yield success where apples have double and cherries have increase 50%. 

Tags: orchard; planting; fruits

A farm with green vegetables being watered

Varaha raises $8.7m to help smallholders in Asia & Africa transition to climate-friendly farming methods [21 February, AgFunder News]

An Indian-based climate technology company, Varaha, has secured US$8.7 million in funding for their platform which validates climate-friendly farming practices and sells carbon credits as a result. Their platform consists of employing an operations team on the ground to collect data on the type of crop being grown and the practices they are implementing. This data is then used to train their remote sensing and machine learning models which aids the validation process on whether farmers are executing these practices or not. Moreover, the technology can quantify emission reduction and sequestration. Farmers who successfully demonstrate these sustainable practices are paid about 65% of the carbon credits while the rest is shared between Varaha and investors. 

Tags: carbon credits; farming; climate

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