Week in Review

In Aotearoa, a significant decrease in the price of fruit and vegetables has contributed to a reduction in food inflation. Figures released from StatsNZ reveal the cost of fresh produce has dropped by 9.3% in the past year, leading to an overall food inflation rate of 2.1% for the year to date, the lowest this rate has been since May 2021. The first shipment of the 2024 kiwifruit season has left New Zealand, bound for China. The shipment of 700,000 trays of SunGold and 15 containers of RubyRed is the first of 63 charter vessels which will sail to more than 50 markets worldwide. WineGrowers New Zealand chief executive, Philip Gregan was asked about the future of New Zealand's wine industry amidst the news that Australian counterparts are having to destroy grape vines to control overproduction. Gregan said the situation in New Zealand differs to Australian counterparts who have been subject to Chinese tariffs over the past two years. He is confident the New Zealand industry will continue to grow, with more vines being planted to meet rising export demand and changing consumer preferences. New Zealand startup ANDFOODS, a spin off business from Massey University and Riddet Institute, has raised NZ $2.7 million in seed funding for its legume-based dairy alternatives fermentation technology. The funding will support the commercialisation of their plant-based creams and milk powders.

In international news, Chinese wheat importers have cancelled or delayed over one million tonnes of Australian wheat contracts as the price of wheat continues to soften around the world. Meanwhile in Angola, Beijing based construction company, Haishan Group will invest USD $1 billion (NZ $ 1.6 billion) over the next five years into a 300-hectare aquaculture project. The project will develop land for an industrial fishery park featuring aquaculture and seafood processing and feed production facilities. New research in Vietnam has revealed that key farming regions are experiencing significant crop losses from the infiltration of saltwater into the soil, these losses are costing approximately US $3.8 billion per year (NZ $ 6.2 billion). The Mekong Delta region is the most affected with approximately 80,000 hectares of rice and fruit farms impacted by saline intrusion. In Europe, legal action has been launched against the European Commission over its failure to implement legislation to ban caged farming practices. In 2021, the Commission had made the historic commitment to prohibit cages for farm animals as a part of the ongoing revision of the animal welfare legislation. In the United Kingdom, parliamentarians are being urged to support the “Buy British Bill” which prioritises “British-origin” products when sourcing food for the public sector. Currently, the British government spends £2.4 billion (NZ $3.1 billion) on procuring food for public schools, prisons and hospitals, but there is no transparency on how much of this is sourced from British farmers.

Spotlight Stories

Animal Welfare Spotlight:

A fish farm in the ocean with mountains in the background

Outlawing octopus farms: Could US bans influence EU and incentivize alt-protein innovation? [ 8 March, Food Ingredients First]

Three U.S. states, Washington, California, and Hawaii have introduced bills to ban octopus farming; and animal protection groups hope this prohibition could spread across the entire country. The most recently introduced bill in California extends to banning farmed octopus imports, as well as domestic production. The U.S. ban may also encourage similar legislation overseas in the European Union, who currently have no protections in place for octopus in a farm setting despite being a global leader in animal welfare. There is a fierce debate in Europe as Spanish-based seafood company, Nueva Pescanova, plan to open the world’s first industrial octopus farm. 

Tags:  Aquaculture; Animal Welfare; Octopus; Regulations

Finance Spotlight:

A factory production line with trays of raw meat

Banks driving increase in global meat and dairy production, report finds [18 March, The Guardian]

UK-based environmental campaign group, Feedback, has produced a report outlining the investments of financial institutions to industrial livestock companies, and their subsequent environmental and social impacts. Between 2015 and 2021, global meat and dairy production rose 9% and 13% respectively. Within a similar timeframe, banks funded the world’s top 55 industrial livestock companies to the average value of US $77 billion (NZ $126.8 billion) a year. The report claimed that some banks appear to have compromised on a number of their policies such as anti-deforestation, and that some institutions had no policies at all to address emissions reduction. While the report called on financiers to defund the livestock industry, it did not report on the instances where they have funded the development of sustainable food systems. 

Tags: Agriculture; Finance Sector; Environmental Reporting

Headline Stories

A group of chickens on a field of grass

Poultry biosecurity plan holds export promise [14 March, Farmers Weekly]

The Ministry for Primary Industries are proposing a new biosecurity system for the poultry industry. It aims to support exporters of day-old chicks and hatching eggs to establish certified bio-secure compartments that can be certified free of target diseases, including avian influenza, Newcastle disease and specified salmonella serovars. ‘Compartments’ are sub-populations with a specific health status. The certification would provide certainty for exporters, allowing them to continue exporting, even if there was a domestic outbreak of an exotic disease. New markets may also open as a result if importing countries have more confidence that exporters are not a risk. New Zealand exports of fertile eggs and day-old chicks in 2022 were worth $55.4 million.

Tags: Poultry; Export; Biosecurity

factory workers having a discussion

Cauldron raises $6.25m series A to scale continuous fermentation tech [18 March, AFN]

Australian precision fermentation startup, Cauldron, has secured funds of AUD $9.5 million (NZ $10.3 million) to scale a manufacturing platform that can produce high-value ingredients through a more efficient ‘continuous’ precision fermentation process. Traditionally, precision fermentation is produced in batches. To avoid contamination and genetic drift, before the process starts up again, the tanks need to be cleaned. Cauldron’s new fermentation process can run continuously for long periods of time with a method that feeds microbes into ancillary vessels where they can express target molecules. This approach does not need large fermentation tanks which reduces both variable and fixed costs.

Tags: Precision Fermentation; Food Tech; Innovation

Two fishermen pulling over a net filled with fish

Ocean tech startup Poseidon raises $28-million CAD Series B to make fish farming more eco-friendly [18 March, Betakit]

A Canadian-based startup, Poseidon Ocean Systems, has secured US $20.75 million (NZD34.12 million) in funding for their technology that aims to improve fish welfare and mitigate ecosystem damage by aquaculture. Despite predictions that by 2030, aquaculture will account for two-thirds of global fish consumption, the industry is often criticised for their role in environmental damage. Poseidon Ocean System’s life support platform and integrated cage technology helps fish farmers to be more resilient, productive and sustainable whilst meeting global demand for sustainable protein. The funding will allow the start-up to dedicate resources to manufacturing.

Tags: Aquaculture; Sustainablilty; Animal Welfare

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