Week in Review

In New Zealand, each industry is sharing its worker shortage count as lack of access to MIQ rooms stretches businesses and the sector. We hear of some developing success stories including a Raglan-based gourmet mushroom business targeting an untapped niche and a new retail investment platform ‘Split’ emerging from Sprout Accelerator securing a MyFarm partnership.

In other stories, The US court has rejected Europe’s attempt for exclusive use of ‘Gruyere’ cheese, QE11 National Trust registers almost 200,000ha of land across the country, and annual food prices hit their highest rise in a decade, increasing 4.5%.

Internationally food waste is in the spotlight with new data showing staggering self-reported food waste statistics from the UK totalling GBP£1.2b while Canada has found one solution, seeing strong waste reduction through the use of food waste apps. Two deals are also reported this week, with a USD$140m investment for Greenlabs’ smart farm monitoring system from Korea, and USD$700m for Indian food delivery business Swiggy which reaches a valuation over $10b.

Spotlight Stories

International Spotlight:

Unilever investors call AGM vote to push for healthy food targets [20 January, Reuters]

A group of investors at Unilever are urging the company to fix a "crucial blind" in its strategy and set ambitious targets to sell healthier foods. They said governments have introduced taxes on products high in sugar or calories as obesity levels rise and therefore a failure to act could hit company finances. In response, Unilever said it plans to update its model for assessing nutrition in 2022, "making it more stretching and ensuring it better reflects our current portfolio and the role our products play in the diets of our consumers".

Tag: International, Agribusiness, Health & Nutrition  

Food Innovation Spotlight:

Mushrooms by the Sea: A surprise lockdown business [26 January, Stuff]

Raglan-based entrepreneurs Sean and Emily Mills founded a gourmet business called Mushroom by the Sea after foraging for wild edible mushrooms during New Zealand's first lockdown. They were surprised that their fresh pink and grey oyster mushrooms were selling out at farmers’ markets and they have since expanded the business. Eldin Millis says the grey oyster mushrooms are able to be used for almost anything while the pink oyster mushrooms are like the blue cheese of mushrooms, and are good for dishes like risotto or on pizza.

Tag: Food Innovation

This Week's Headlines

headline 1

Deep Space Food Challenge: NASA Offers $1 Million for Innovative Systems to Feed Tomorrow’s Astronauts [22 January, Sci Tech Daily]

In coordination with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA is calling on the public to help create a food production technology, system, or approach that could sustain a crew of four on a three-year deep space mission. “Feeding astronauts over long periods within the constraints of space travel will require innovative solutions,” Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate said. “Pushing the boundaries of food technology will keep future explorers healthy and could even help feed people here at home.”

Tag: International, Food Innovation    

headline 2

Fonterra lifts farmgate milk price to record level; sees $13.8b economic boost [25 January, Stuff]

Fonterra Co-operative Group has lifted its forecasted milk payment to farmers for the 2021/2022 season to a new record level of NZ$8.90-$9.50 per kilogram of milk solids, expecting to contribute $13.8 billion to the economy. Chief executive Miles Hurrell noted that while the higher forecast farmgate milk price puts pressure on the company's margins in its consumer and foodservice businesses, prices in its ingredients business are favourable for milk price and earnings at this stage.

Tag: Dairy, Trade & Exports, Farmers & Producers


Vanilla fraud exposed in France, including ‘pods dipped in vanilla flavoured aroma’ [20 January, Food Navigator]

France’s Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) undertook an investigation to determine whether vanilla products and flavoured foodstuffs were complying with regulations and found cases of fraudulent and misleading commercial practices. Overall, DGCCRF’s testing indicated a non-compliance rate of 23%, resulting in government authority issuing 36 warnings, 13 administrative police measures, three criminal reports and four administrative fine reports.

Tag: International, Food security

Top stories

MIQ room release postponement another blow for red meat industry [20 January, NZ Herald]

It is reported that the latest MIQ room release has been postponed due to the “unprecedented” number of Omnicom cases, causing New Zealand’s red meat industry to struggle to find skilled workers. In December last year, the Government authorised border class exemption for 15 halal butchers, but a Meat Industry Association member poll revealed that 69 were required. "Without the halal butcher at the top of the processing chain," the sector is said to be at risk of losing NZ$3.3 billion in export earnings.

Tag: Red Meat, Policy and Regulation, Covid-19

Annual food prices leap 4.5% - highest rise in a decade [20 January, NZ Herald]

According to the latest report by Stats NZ, the annual food price increased to the highest rate in a decade by 4.5% in December 2021 compared to December 2020, primarily due to tomatoes almost doubling in price from NZ$3.33 to $6.61. Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen said that the combination of staff shortages and increased wages may have pushed up tomato prices. However, the report showed high tomato prices were partially offset by lower prices for kiwifruit, kumara, and avocados.

Tag: Food security, Trade & Exports

Marketing programme tastes further success [21 January, Farmers Weekly]

Taste Pure Nature marketing in the United States and China has reportedly generated success in the past year and plans to build on the programme despite the red meat industry’s challenge of servicing demand through the supply chain. The strategy in the US focuses on areas where a high concentration of its target consumer group exists- the “conscious foodie.” In China, the strategy involves partnering with NZ exports and their in-market customers and retailers to design campaigns around locations with NZ grass-fed beef and lamb.

Tag: Food Marketing, Red Meat

Otago students' startup partnering with MyFarm [24 January, NZ Herald]

A Dunedin-based investment startup called “Split” has announced a working partnership with long-established investment syndicator MyFarm to “massively boost” their online platform, aiming to provide everyday Kiwis with initial access to high-value and high-growth assets in the agricultural sector. Split is said to be partnering with companies to find retail investors instead of wholesale investors, allowing anyone to buy a “split” of a business for as little as NZ$250. MyFarm will see retail capital flow into its syndicates for the first time in partnership with Split.

Tag: Agribusiness       

Using carbon-absorbing seaweed to help our homes go green [January 21, Stuff]

A University of Canterbury student Andy Park has caught the eye of innovators and the building industry by using seaweed in plasterboards to absorb greenhouse gas instead of creating it. Park says with the building industry contributing about 20% to the country’s emissions and the building code being lifted to make new homes warmer, drier and more energy-efficient, using carbon-absorbing seaweed could become valuable. His prototype recently won a NZ$20,000 commercialisation award, allowing him to continue his research and development in the hopes of his new material one day being used in homes.

Tag: Environment & Emissions, Aquaculture

Alliance launches premium Wagyu beef offer for farmers [26 January, NZ Herald]

Alliance has partnered with Southern Stations Wagyu to launch a premium Wagyu beef offer to New Zealand farmers in hopes of increasing value and meeting consumer demand in its international markets. Alliance category beef director Darren Drury says farmers who start the programme now will have fully grown Wagyu ready for processing in about three years. Farmers could also be rewarded with premiums of between 40c and NZ$3 a kilo above schedule price if cattle meet certain marbling, pH levels, fat colour and meat colour specifications, he adds.

Tag: Red Meat, Farmers & Producers, Farming Systems

Strong demand for QE11 conservation [26 January, Farmers Weekly]

According to QE11 National Trust’s annual report, 5000 approved and registered covenants and formal agreements have been passed, covering 200,000 hectares of total land area across the country. The report says Northland had the most registered covenants (761), followed by Waikato (691), and forests accounted for 45% of total registered covenants, followed by grasslands and tussock lands at 27%. National Trust chief executive Dan Coup says despite covid, or perhaps partly because of it, demand for QE11’s services is very high.

Tag: Environment & Emissions, Farmers & Producers, Farming Systems  

Cheese name ruling brings hope [26 January, Rural News Group]

New Zealand cheese producers are “pleased to see” the outcome of a US court decision to reject Europe's bid to have exclusive use of the Gruyére cheese name. US dairy farmers and stakeholders have reportedly been lobbying to preserve the ability of all competitors in the US market to use generic terms. NZ Specialist Cheesemakers Association president Catherine MacNamara said "the organisation will follow the case as closely as possible for an indication that Gruyére may be able to continue to be used in New Zealand."

Tag: International, Policy and Regulation, Dairy       

Canadians reducing grocery bills, waste by using food rescue apps [23 January, Global News]

Canadians are seeing increased food prices in supermarkets, but food rescue apps such as Too Good to Go, Flashfood, Feedback and Olio allow shoppers to buy aging food that’s still fit for consumption at a marked down price. Users of these apps said they have paid anywhere from C$3 to $10 for prepared lunches or dinners, a week’s worth of vegetables and fruit, several loaves of bread, and pastry boxes. Flashfood has reportedly kept more than 13.5 million kilograms of food out of landfills and saved users a collective $90 million.

Tag: International, Environment & Emissions, Food Security

Lighted Nets Dramatically Reduce Bycatch Of Sharks [24 January, Forbes]

Researchers from Arizona State University have found that using lighted gillnets for commercial fishing reduced total fisheries bycatch by 63% while maintaining targeted fish catch rates and market value. They found a 95% reduction in sharks, skates, and rays, an 81% reduction in Humboldt squid, and a 48% reduction in unwanted finfish. Additionally, using LED lights to illuminate gillnets has been shown to reduce total discarded bycatch biomass by 63% while also reducing the time it takes fishers to retrieve and disentangle nets.

Tag: International, Fisheries, International, Research & Development

Indian food delivery giant Swiggy raises $700 million at $10.7 billion valuation [24 January, Tech Crunch]

Swiggy, India’s top food delivery startup, has raised US$700 million in a new financing round, six months after securing $1.25 billion, as it “aggressively” expands its offerings including Instamart, the instant-delivery service in the South Asian market. The new funding follows a strong year of growth for Swiggy in which the startup nearly doubled its food delivery business’ gross order value. Additionally, Instamart is reportedly set to reach an annual GMV run rate of $1 billion in the next three quarters.

Tag: International, Agribusiness

UK consumers ‘don’t know what to cook’ as £1.2bn of food is binned a year [20 January, The Guardian]

According to data from Censuswide research, almost £1.2 billion worth of fruit, vegetables and bread is binned in the UK every year, with one in five consumers stating the reason they waste so much is they “don’t know what to cook”. It was also reported that 914 million potatoes, 733 million tomatoes and 728 million carrots end up in dustbins each year. To help shoppers tackle food waste, Sainsbury is promoting recipes for easy-to-make and affordable soups that use up vegetables that might otherwise get thrown out.

Tag: International, Food Security, Environment & Emissions           

AgriTech startup Greenlabs earns $140MM investment for global expansion [25 January, Blue Book Services]

Greenlabs, a startup member of Born2Global Centre, has announced it has raised US$140 million in a Series C funding round, bringing the total raised to more than $176m, to accelerate its global expansion. The investment follows rapid growth of the Greenlabs Farm Morning app and Sinsun Market platform, serving over 500,000 produce growers and 10,000 buyers. Greenlabs’ mission is to sustainably innovate the food supply chain and empower agricultural producers to control their fresh produce better while providing enterprise customers with reliable sourcing channels.

Tag: International, Agribusiness

Tonga Volcanic Eruption: What Possible Impact On Agriculture And Fisheries? [22 January, Scoop]

It is reported that Food and Agriculture Organisation is extremely concerned about the potential impacts of the volcanic eruption in Tonga across all agriculture sectors, including fisheries, crops and livestock, with roughly 86% of Tongans engaged in agriculture. “With a comprehensive picture yet to emerge, it’s already clear that Tonga will likely require both short- and long-term assistance. FAO is already moving to allocate funds for damage assessments and some initial response measures,” said FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Xiangjun Yao.

Tag: International, Food security       


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