Week in Review

In Aotearoa, Daisy Lab Ltd has been granted a new approval by the Environmental Protection Authority to scale their current work and increase production of their dairy-identical proteins using genetically modified yeast. Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has revealed a new strategic direction, announcing they will explore options for full or partial divestment of their global consumer business, including major brands. In the first half of the 2024 financial year, their consumer business utilised 15% of the co-operative’s total milk solids and accounted for 19% of earnings. The strategic shift will see the co-operative focus exclusively on being a business-to-business dairy nutrition provider. Federated Farmers are advocating for the government to initiate an inquiry into rural bank lending, their banking survey shows that farmer satisfaction levels with banks are at an all-time low. Federated Farmers claim that New Zealand banking regulations are among the strictest in the world, with the new capital holding rules costing rural borrowers between $310 to $740 million each year in higher interest rates. Following the mouse infestation reported earlier this month, Zespri Group Limited have now decided to repurpose their first European shipment of SunGold kiwifruit, worth about $34 million, into biofuel. Following the inspection of more than half of the shipment, it was concluded that they could not fully mitigate food safety and reputational risk if any fruit was released.

In international news, Australian supermarket retailers are moving away from the traditional plastic net bags for citrus to recyclable paper-based options for this season’s mandarins. Coles, the second largest Australian supermarket retailer, is the latest to trial paper bags for mandarins, a move that will avoid the use of 11,700 kilograms of plastic per year. In Canada, a food-tech start-up, Relocalize, raised funds of CAD $5.8 million (NZ $6.9 million) to expand their micro-factory platform. The start-up installs micro-factories at grocery distribution centres to produce local food and beverages, thereby mitigating supply chain risks and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from delivery. In Ireland, the Irish Farmer Journal and KPMG Ireland have collaborated to release the 12th edition of their Agribusiness Report, ‘Future of Food Production’, which highlights the challenges for the industry, but also the opportunities for growth across the Irish food sector. In the United Kingdom, supermarket chain Morrisons are trialling the sale of New Zealand lamb in 39 of their stores. The move has received criticism from local farmers, however Morrisons has taken this action in response to consumer demands for cheaper prices. New Zealand lamb is more cost-effective compared to British lamb, even with the additional transport costs.

Spotlight Stories

AgriTech Spotlight:

a drone watching a cow in a paddock

World-first live remote muster by drone at Beef Australia 2024 a sign of things to come for cattle industry [19 May, ABC]

The use of drone technology is making remote cattle mustering more efficient for Australian farmers. Cloncurry-based drone mustering company, SkyKelpie, showcased the world's first live remote muster at the Beef Australia 2024 event. While many farmers already use drones to muster their cattle, connectivity issues mean farmers still must muster from within the paddocks. The emerging technology showcased at Beef Australia 2024 included docking stations for drones to land, recharge and then take off again, enabling remote operation from anywhere in the world. Luke Chaplain, founder of SkyKelpie, stated that while the necessary Civil Aviation Safety Authority approvals have restricted widespread adoption, they are collaborating with regulators to establish a mobile remote operation center. Despite initial skepticism, farmers recognise the cost-saving and efficiency benefits of using drones for mustering. Original full article here

Tags: drone technology; rural connectivity; stock management; agritech

Consumer Behaviour Spotlight:

a bunch of free-range chickens

Study reveals consumers value animal welfare more than environmental sustainability when buying meat and dairy products [16 May, Science Daily]

According to a British study by the University of Portsmouth, the treatment of animals ranks higher than environmental concerns when consumers choose meat and dairy products. The study, conducted in five countries, found that consumers prioritise taste, quality, and animal welfare, while environmental factors like food miles and carbon footprint were considered less important. Dr. Andy Jin, a study co-author, emphasised the need for changes to labelling strategies that encompass various product attributes beyond environmental considerations alone. The research suggests a need for policy measures and interventions to help consumers align their attitudes with sustainable purchasing behaviour. Original full article here

Tags: sustainability; animal welfare; product labels; consumer behaviour 

Headline Stories

a man holding up a trophy on top of a mountain

Aotearoa’s top Māori dairy farm and young Māori farmer celebrated at Ahuwhenua award [20 May, Te Ao Māori News]

The 2024 Ahuwhenua awards celebrated excellence in Māori dairy farming. This year’s award recipients, Wairarapa Moana ki Pouākani Incorporation (WMI) and Ben Purua, were announced at a ceremony in Hamilton. WMI, is a major shareholder in Māori dairy company Miraka, producing five million milksolids from its 12,000 cow herd. Nukuhia Hadfield, the chair of the Ahuwhenua Trophy management committee, praised WMI as a role model for sustainability in the sector. Ben Purua was awarded the 2024 Young Māori Farmer, Ben is a farm manager at Waimakariri Lands Ltd in the Waikato. The 29-year-old has overcome considerable adversity in his life, eventually finding his passion for farming while working on Waikeria Prison farms. Original full article here

Tags: farming excellence, dairy; Māori farming; Ahuwhenua Trophy

botlles of wine

Alpla’s new PET wine bottle slashes carbon emissions by half [14 May, FoodBev Media]

Austrian plastics manufacturer, Alpla, has launched a new polyethylene terephalate (PET) wine bottle designed to be more sustainable and cost-efficient for the wine industry. The new bottles weigh an eighth of glass counterparts and reduce carbon emissions by up to 50%. The bottles also reduce shipping costs, are up to 30% cheaper than glass bottles and are compatible with existing bottling lines. Wegenstein winery, their pilot customer, has successfully integrated the PET bottles into production alongside their glass bottles. Alpla joins the Europe-wide bottle-to-bottle recycling loop, achieving a 38% reduction in carbon emissions compared to traditional glass bottles even before incorporating recycled PET materials. Original full article here

Tags: wine industry; sustainable packaging; recycling; emissions reductions

two scientists walking through a greenhouse

German agtech hexafarms secures €1.3M for AI-optimised commercial food production [14 May, Tech Funding News]

German agritech company, hexafarms, who are using AI to optimise crop production has secured €1.3 million (NZ $2.3 million) in pre-seed funding. Their software for indoor commercial food production collects data and uses AI to monitor production, offering tailored insights and real-time issue identification to reduce preventable crop losses. Over the past six months, hexafarms' software has tracked over 40 hectares of commercial greenhouses and processed around 9 million kilos of strawberries and tomatoes. The funding will be used to further enhance its AI and machine learning capabilities, improve prediction accuracy, and to expand hexafarms’ crop portfolio. Original full article here

Tags: agritech; greenhouse; funding; AI; food production

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