Week in Review

In Aotearoa, Canterbury barley farmers have recorded the highest autumn-sown yields since the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR)’s Cultivar Performance Trial records began, achieving averages of 13.2 t/ha for irrigated barley and 13 t/ha for dryland barley. In comparison, the Trial’s four-year means were 10.9 and 10 t/ha respectively. Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) have sent out their levy referendum proposal this week to 4,200 fruit and vegetable growers across the country for the continued collection of their commodity levies. Zespri Group Limited’s first shipment of SunGold Kiwifruit into Europe, worth $12 million, is facing a full write off due to a mouse infestation on the ship. The kiwifruit marketer’s next step is to find out the extent of fruit that has been affected and whether any is salvageable, whilst still meeting high quality and food safety standards. Following last week’s news that the 2024 New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch will be cancelled due to financial constraints; Christchurch City Council and Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association (CAPA) have signed an agreement to support the future of the A&P show. The council will pay $5 million to CAPA for the remaining 95 years lease of 5 hectares of land which will be put into a charitable trust investment fund, the revenue from this is being used to fund the show’s running costs. The council will be able to use the park for recreational space throughout the rest of the year.

In international news, Australia’s primary producers will be subject to a new biosecurity levy from 1 July 2024, the move is being strongly opposed by the National Farmers Federation. They argue that farmers are already carrying biosecurity costs, and a new levy will place additional financial pressures on producers. Under the biosecurity proposal, primary producers will cover around 6% of the levy, with importers paying 48%, and the balance covered by taxpayers and Australia Post. A trade mission by the European Union’s Agriculture Commissioner has taken over 70 business delegates to visit Shanghai, China for a food and beverage exhibition. The purpose of the mission is to facilitate European agricultural food and beverage exports into the Chinese market, with a key priority to improve market access for meat products. In the United Kingdom, German international discount retailer chain, Lidl, is investing £500 million (NZ $1.05 billion) into the British pork sector. Part of the investment includes a new pricing model for pork producers that guarantees fixed margins and minimum volumes. It will also focus on research and development for animal wellbeing and emission reduction on farms. The Rockefeller Foundation are leading a multi-year US $30 million (NZ $50.3 million) project called the Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI) documenting the molecular components in food. They have partnered with 20 research labs around the globe to document an extensive range of compounds, micronutrients and specialised metabolites of around 500 foods so far, with a further 1600 in the pipeline.

Spotlight Stories

Artificial Intelligence Spotlight:

A commercial ship with fishermen bringing in fish

How A.I. Is Revolutionizing Marine Conservation [25 April, Smithsonian Magazine]

An Algerian marine scientist has developed a way to use artificial intelligence and customised monitoring technology to enable more effective policing of marine crimes such as illegal fishing and transboundary fishing. The technology uses the automatic information systems (AIS) installed on ships combined with a bespoke AI powered database of marine crime to provide real-time information of the likelihood of a particular ship committing an environmental crime. In 2021, Dyhia Belhabib co-founded the “Nautical Crime Investigation Services” a startup to help combat global illegal fishing, which has traditionally been difficult to track and enforce rules on ships. The approach has revolutionised marine conservation as it allows local authorities to intercept illegal fishers while reducing the cost of deployment, monitoring and interception. Original full article here

Tags: artificial intelligence, environment, fishing, innovation

Labour Mobility Spotlight:

Some seasonal workers picking berries

Pacific Island nations are moving to gain control over their labour drains, after seasonal worker numbers explode [27 April, ABC News]

Pacific Island nations are reviewing their own workforce policies to fix current labour shortages, after the number of workers joining the Australian and New Zealand foreign mobility schemes doubled to 48,000 workers between 2019 and 2023. The Australian and New Zealand schemes attract Pacific Island workers seeking higher wages, savings opportunities, and relief from cost-of-living pressures. However, Pacific Island leaders are now highlighting their own labour shortages and the severe impact it has on local economies. For example, as a short-term solution, Vanuatu has recently introduced an emergency visa with the hope of attracting approximately 1,500 workers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. However, to date only 200 applications have been received as the visa is unable to be renewed or extended after 12 months, which is unappealing to many migrants. Original full article here

Tags: immigration; pacific; labour market

Headline Stories

 a mixture of frozen berries

New import rules to avoid repeat of hepatitis A outbreak [23 April, RNZ]

The New Zealand Food Safety organisation will implement new importing rules in August for frozen berries coming into the country to improve food safety. This follows a hepatitis A outbreak in 2022-23, which was traced back to imported frozen berries, and affected 39 people. The new rules extend risk management to offshore operations, requiring independent certification to verify overseas manufacturers meet New Zealand’s food safety standards. The new import requirements will be enforced starting from 1st August, with a transition period of 18 months for importers to fully comply with the changes. Original full article here

Tags: frozen berry; food safety; import; certification

small black trays with red meat in them on a manufacturing production line

Alliance Group asks farmers to help raise share capital in bid to stay farmer-owned [19 April, The Country - NZ Herald]

Alliance Group Limited is requesting the support of their farmers for the capital required to remain a 100% farmer-owned red meat co-operative. The co-operative has been profitable for nine of the last ten years, but last year they experienced a loss of $70 million mainly driven by market volatility, inflationary pressures and weakening global markets. The board has approved increasing the standard shareholding from 12 to 16 shares per livestock unit processed, and an extra $3 per livestock unit cost at the works, a move signalled to shareholders at last year’s AGM. To restore their balance sheet within the next three years, Alliance requires funding of approximately $100-150 million, but this will not solely come from farmer-shareholder contributions. Shareholder investment will support the co-operative to decrease its reliance on lenders, expand product offerings, and fund transformation for increased value to farmers. Original full article here

Tags: share capital; red meat; farmer

A fish farm operation in the ocean with mountains in the background

Scientists replace fishmeal in aquaculture with microbial protein derived from soybean processing wastewater [25 April, Science Daily]

In Singapore, researchers from Nanyang Technological University and Temasek Polytechnic have achieved a significant milestone for sustainable fish farming. They have been successful in substituting 50% of the fishmeal protein fed to farmed Asian seabass diets with a 'single cell protein' derived from microbes found in soybean processing wastewater. Traditionally fishmeal made from wild-caught fish is a key ingredient in fish feed however, it is not sustainable, contributing to overfishing. A single cell protein was discovered in the microbes of soybean wastewater which is a suitable substitute for use in fishmeal. The breakthrough was validated through a feeding trial with young Asian seabass, those fed with the new 50% single cell protein diet showed more consistent and less variable growth than the traditional diet. Further studies are needed to optimise the 'single cell protein' production and evaluate its long-term effects on fish health and growth. Original full article here

Tags: aquaculture; fishmeal; microbial protein

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