Week in Review

In Aotearoa, registrations for the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s ‘Next Level’ Programme are now open. The six-month leadership and governance programme is designed to grow and encourage women to break through barriers, develop a leadership mindset, as well as connect with other like-minded women. For more details or to register, please visit the AWDT website – linked here. New Zealand food safety officials have updated the risk profiles for Salmonella Enteritidis in eggs, poultry meat and animal feed after a recent outbreak of the bacterial infection, linked to the 2021 incursion of the strain. This variant of Salmonella is more infectious, appears to have a higher hospitalisation rate than other strains, and may also spread by transovarian transmission into eggs. The first two updated risk profile reports are now available on the Ministry of Primary Industries website. Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has converted its South Otago Stirling cheese factory to run solely on renewable energy. The facility now uses 252 cubic metres of biomass per day and is environmentally friendlier than the old coal-fired boiler that produced 9 tonnes of coal ash each day. A number of New Zealand pasture species seeds have been sent to the remote Global Seed Vault, located 120 meters below the Artic Archipelago. The Norwegian vault stores seeds from every important crop in the world to ensure the globe’s future food supplies and biodiversity in case of their loss through disaster.

In international news, after a month-long trial, British retailer Marks & Spencer has reverted back to using whole dairy milk in their cafés as the default milk, with customers now having to specifically request skim or semi-skimmed if they don’t want full fat dairy milk in their drinks. The decision comes after new survey data out of Waitrose found that a third of respondents had switched from lower-fat to full-fat milk in 2023, particularly in consumers under the age of 35. British FMCG company, Unilever has announced its first regenerative agriculture project, working with mustard and mint farms that supply its Colman’s brand products. The project will create a framework that will measure the impact of low carbon fertilisers, crop nutrition strategies and new digital irrigation systems, among other regenerative practices. Meanwhile in Catalonia, Spain, the government will build an alternative proteins ingredient and food pilot facility. The €12million (NZ $23 million) investment is a part an initiative supported by the European Union to build the region’s first industrial biopark. In the USA, wildfires are sweeping through Texas and Oklahoma. The active Smokehouse Creek Fire has been burning for over six days and burnt across more than 1.1 million acres (approx. 450,000 hectares). This is the largest wildfire in Texas history, approximately 400-500 dwellings have been destroyed by fire, and thousands of livestock have been lost.

Spotlight Stories

Packaging Innovation Spotlight:

A bunch of kiwifruits that have been cut in half.

Zespri's new pillbox-shaped case will ensure you never forget your fruit [1 March, Marketing Interactive]

Kiwifruit brand, Zespri Group Limited, has launched new sustainable packaging to encourage daily fruit consumption by offering a pill-styled package with seven compartments labelled Monday through Sunday, with each compartment containing an individual kiwifruit. The limited-edition Fruit Pillbox packaging will be rolled out as a pilot run at the start of March 2024 in selected Singaporean stores. Research conducted by Zespri has shown that despite 93% of Singaporeans wanting to consume more fruit, 50% of them do not consumer fruit daily due to forgetfulness. The Fruit Pillbox packaging approach was designed using the nudge theory to encourage consumer habits through subtle gentle changes. The goal in this instance being to persuade better and healthier eating habits and to make daily fruit consumption an easy part of the day. 

Tags: packaging; innovation; horticulture

Technology Spotlight:

A man holding a tablet in a field with the sun setting in the background

This App Lets Inuit Combine Traditional Knowledge With Scientific Data [22 February, Smithsonian Magazine]

A social networking app has been developed for Inuit communities that combines traditional knowledge, scientific data and everyday activities to capture indigenous life in the rapidly changing landscape. The Siku app was developed by the local elders in Sanikiluaq, an Inuit community located within the Nunavut territory of Canada, and Arctic Eider Society, a non-profit, to track changes in the environment, keep tabs on local wild foods and support decision making for managing wildlife. Traditionally, Inuit communities would have shared their knowledge orally amongst each other, but the Siku app has enabled sharing of photos, videos, and knowledge across 25,000 people from at least 120 communities. Siku captures everything from hunting, travelling, accounts of climate change and industrial activity as well as the development of local wildlife. The information on the platform is robust enough to inform important decisions such as controlling hunting frequency for maintaining deer populations, and for use as a database for research projects.

Tags: technology; indigenous knowledge systems

Headline Stories

Some fishermen reeling in a net filled with fish

Cook Strait salmon farm approved [1 March, Farmers Weekly]

Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS) has finally gained government approval to establish an open ocean salmon farm located 7km off Cape Lambert in the Cook Strait. The proposed Blue Endeavour farm will have 20 circular pens and be less than 12 hectares in size, with the fully operational farm forecast to produce 10,000 tonnes of salmon and generate $300 million in revenue per year. Open ocean farming is set up in much deeper areas of the ocean where fish are exposed to more natural conditions and stronger ocean currents with more diverse nutrient flows. It has been a nine-year process for NZKS to gain approval, they are now able to begin the first stage of an 18-month seabed, seabird and marine mammal monitoring program to understand the impacts of a working open ocean salmon farm. Following monitoring, a proof-of-concept trial pen will be installed from June 2025.  

Tags: regulation; aquaculture; open ocean farming

a crop field with an irrigation system in operation

Morrisons launch Sustainable Farm Network to support farmers on net zero journey [29 February, Farmers Guardian]

UK supermarket retailer, Morrisons, is launching a Sustainable Farm Network , alongside Harper Adams University's School of Sustainable Food and Farming, to support their farmer suppliers to reach sustainable net zero farming. The Sustainable Farm Network programme aims to evaluate and improve current farming practices and provide farmers with access to industry specialists, academics and other farmers, with the chance to share their own expertise on soil, water and animal welfare. At least 70 farmers across Morrison’s supply chain will join the initiative in its first year. Morrisons will also launch an incentive program me for farmers for achieving milestones in the sustainable program, rewards will include Morrisons shopping vouchers. Morrisons is British farming's biggest direct supermarket customer, working with over 2,700 farmers.  

Tags: sustainable farming; retailers; value chains; emissions

Multiple cows being milked

Researchers investigate which dairy calf rearing method is better [29 February, RNZ]

Researchers from Massey University have begun a three-year pilot study to determine the best method for dairy calf rearing – whether they are better to be reared on their mothers, or to be separated shortly after birth and reared through artificial rearing methods on whole milk or milk powder. It is common practice in the dairy industry for calves to be separated shortly after birth to maximise milk production, however feeding the calf has become an increasing cost to farmers. Moreover, calves separated from their mothers appear to be smaller at the point in time of joining the milking herd, potentially limiting future milk production. The study aims to compare the impacts of the two methods of rearing on calf welfare, growth rates and their milk production when fully grown. The study will also consider the short and long-term economic implications for dairy farm businesses.

Tags: dairy; animal health and welfare; research

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