Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell has told Malaysian businesses they can rely on high quality, fresh and safe food and beverage products from Aotearoa New Zealand.
Speaking at a business matching event to introduce Malaysian businesses to Māori business leaders Mr Flavell says there is a huge untapped potential to work together in the food and beverage sector.
“It’s one we know well, because we have been growing and gathering kai in Aotearoa New Zealand for hundreds of years,” says Mr Flavell.
Mr Flavell, who is on his first Māori business and cultural mission to Malaysia this week, says the Māori business leaders in the delegation were in charge of major operations – with all already exporting successfully overseas, and looking to grow their business in South East Asia.
Representatives of Miraka Ltd, Kahungunu Asset Holding Company, Fonterra, Māori Kiwifruit Growers Forum, Zespri and Watson & Son Ltd are accompanying Mr Flavell on the mission.
“We are here to send a strong message that Māori food and beverage businesses want to be serious partners in the Malaysian market,” says Mr Flavell.
“We are trusted exporters of food products and we place a premium on taste and care for the way food is grown, gathered, packaged, marketed and distributed. We can provide integrity in supply chains and the cultural identity, origins and sustainability of our products.”
What set Māori business apart was its focus on culture, and the key principles that underpin how they do business, says Mr Flavell.
“We measure success not just against financial results but also social, environmental and cultural objectives,” says Mr Flavell.
“When we think of investment we look to those who have gone before us and those yet to be born – we have the long-term game in mind. For us, developing export markets means going to the place we want to sell our products, meeting our partners face to face or as we say ‘kanohi ki te kanohi’.”
Also at the business matching event were five young New Zealand food and business entrepreneurs who are visiting to facilitate trade and build connections between business in New Zealand and South East Asia.
The ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative and has been timed to coincide with the Māori business and cultural mission.
DairyNZ is hailing the fact that 97 percent of dairy cattle are now fenced off from waterways, but its latest Water Accord report reveals a significant worsening of reported nutrient leaching in the areas with the biggest new conversions, reports Lynn Grieveson on NewsroomPro
DairyNZ described the fencing on waterways as going from Cape Reinga to Bluff 12 times, and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy had it going to Chicago and back - but they both agreed the 26,197 kilometres of fencing stopping cattle from getting into streams, rivers and lakes was something to celebrate.
LEADING European farm machinery manufacturer, CLAAS, who are represented throughout New Zealand is significantly increasing its research and development capacities with the construction of a new test centre at the company’s headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany.
Due to open early next year, the €15 million facility will merge several test laboratories at the site into a single, state-of-the-art complex.
The new complex will boast 8,000 square metres of floor space – the equivalent of about 40 full-size tennis courts – and more than 200 individual workstations and laboratories.
The centre will enable CLAAS to test the performance and reliability of components for its high-performance combine harvesters, forage harvesters and tractors under a wide range of operating and climatic conditions.
It incorporates a number of energy-saving innovations, including the use of 300 kilowatt electric drive units to test transmission components instead of diesel engines.
A heat recovery process will eliminate the need for a conventional heating system during winter, while a water system with heat exchangers fitted to the underfloor radiators will provide cooling in summer.
John Vosper’s family farm Cleavedale in Matamata went organic in 2003 and two years ago launched the Jersey Girl Organics brand; now the bottled milk is sold North Island-wide and fresh milk is available from two vending machines in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
The business won the outstanding producer dairy primary award at the recent Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards.
Vosper told Dairy News the win affirms “we are on the right track; we are pleased to win award”.
He sees a growing demand for organics in New Zealand.
“Customers are increasingly concerned about where their food is coming from and how it is produced. Organic certification gives them assurance about environmental impacts and the way food is produced.”
Vosper says the farm went organic “as it fitted our farming philosophy and we hoped to increase returns”.
“Our milk is pasteurised to eliminate bugs; it is not homogenised. In the vending machine the milk is kept cold, dark and stirred.
“Jersey Girl milk is audited to strict organic standards. You can be sure the milk is free of antibiotic, herbicide and pesticide residues.”
The farm runs a herd of 250 pedigree Jersey cows, producing about 800,000L; surplus milk is sold to Fonterra.
On the system 2 farm the Jerseys graze on organic pasture, supplemented with hay, silage and maize cut from local paddocks.
A support block was used to graze replacements and produce silage. Vosper says after a series of dry summers the farm started growing maize for silage, giving more options for feed.
“Maize paddocks are planted in permanent pasture consisting of a diverse species mix. After a few years of decreasing pasture production we now have a fertiliser policy of maintaining nutrient levels in the soil and spend above-average amounts on fertiliser.”
The farm calves about 200 cows in spring and 50 in autumn; usually about 55 heifer replacements are reared.
Cows are milked in a 20-bail rotary.
Vosper says animal health is challenging at times as any animal that has a prohibited treatment has to leave the farm. “In future we will be placing more emphasis on animal health traits in sire selection.
“Last October we did four weeks of Jersey semen followed by eight weeks of using short gestation sires. Our empty rate was 10%.”
The Vosper family has been farming on Cleavedale farm for five generations.
Vosper says the family loves organic dairying.
“We love the land we live on and the animals that share it with us; we take pride in producing a top quality milk in a way that honours natural processes.
“Organic production methods require committment and energy. There are no shortcuts, no artificial fertiliser, no production line fast tracking, no modifications.”
Manuka Health has officially opened its expanded national apiculture business after a $3.5million build that will significantly expand the organisation’s export capacity.
Joining CEO John Kippenberger, the Minister for Food Safety Hon David Bennett opened the Manuka Health Wairarapa Apiculture Centre in an event attended by MP for the Wairarapa, Alastair Scott; Mayor John Booth of Carterton District Council; Chief Executive of Carterton District Council, Jane Davis; industry and government representatives; neighbours; beekeeper partners; site design and build companies; and Manuka Health staff.
At the event Minister Bennett planted the last of 2,000 native plants that complete the build; a symbolic Manuka tree representing the future of the industry.
Manuka Health CEO John Kippenberger says investment in the Centre’s expansion is an important milestone in the company’s growth, ongoing product quality and traceability assurance, and its commitment to the Wairarapa community.
“Manuka Health is proud to invest in the region and play our part in the local and national beekeeping sector. The Wairarapa Apiculture Centre employs 27 people during peak season with the Centre’s expected growth in processing capacity seeing up to 15 more employees join over the next two years.
“The Centre plays a crucial role in providing a secure and efficient passage for our products. It’s a hub for the extraction and collection of honey from more than 20,000 hives that will come in for processing from Northland, Waikato, Taranaki and Wairarapa during the next season. The Centre ensures our consumers in cities such as Frankfurt, Beijing, San Francisco and London can have absolute confidence that the product they are buying has been treated with care and under strictly controlled conditions right from the hive.
“The capital investment in the Centre’s build facilitates a substantial expansion in honey extraction capability. This is another step in our journey to help New Zealand meet its $1.2bn target of honey sales by 2028,” says Mr Kippenberger.
The Wairarapa Apiculture Centre collects and extracts honey from honey frames. Honey boxes from around the North Island are sent to the Centre for honey extraction and drum storage during the November to March harvest each year. The drums are then freighted to Manuka Health in Te Awamutu for testing and packaging.
The Wairarapa Apiculture Centre expansion follows Manuka Health’s opening of a new $10 million manufacturing facility in Te Awamutu, a largescale integrated facility of operations, testing, quality and distribution.
The ability for regions to declare themselves GE-Free in crops, forestry, and grasses won with the support of the Maori Party is a marketing advantage.
New Zealand’s free trade deal with China, our biggest market, has seen investment in New Zealand because of the assurance of quality and GE-Free status.
A Nielsen survey showed that 70% of Chinese consumers were avoiding GMOs in foods and actively seeking to buy GE-free produce.
Responding to USA consumer demand, Fonterra has also launched products specifying their GE-free status.
These real-world market trends signal the significance of the third reading of the Resource Legislation Amendment (RLA) Bill which was passed after the Maori Party was able to preserve the right for councils to regulate, in their plans, genetically modified (GMO) crops, including grass and forestry crops.
Originally, the Minister for the Environment had wanted to prohibit all land use regulations on GMOs in council plans, but then compromised and exempted GM crops in general.
Through rigorous negotiations, the Maori Party was able to remove 43A and 43B and amend 360D, inserting a new clause that included all GE plants, including forestry and grasses, but not GE animals.
It is GE animals that represent a risk to New Zealand's reputation. Any commercialisation for GE animals is a concern to many, as field trials have shown that the transgenic manipulations are costly and cause intense suffering to the animals. 
Any large-scale release of GE animals would breach ethical and moral standards of humane husbandry New Zealand has spent years upholding, and would undermine New Zealand's brand image among consumers overseas.
“It is in the interest of the whole country that total GE-free production is preserved and regions can proceed to protect their businesses from any GE contamination,” said Jon Carapiet national spokesperson for GE-Free NZ.
“The removal of the GE clauses from the RMA amendments was a great outcome for democracy, upheld by the Maori Party and everyone who has fought for the regions being able to declare themselves GE-free. But the prospect of GE animals remains a significant threat.”
New Zealand's pavilion at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai will have strong potential to showcase this country’s primary industry products and innovation in sustainability.
So says Catherine Beard, chief executive of ExportNZ.
The Government has just announced New Zealand will participate in World Expo 2020, to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is committing $53.3 million to construct a NZ pavilion.
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges says “that will allow Kiwi businesses to highlight their innovative products and services and open doors to new export markets”.
The expo site will be about 2 sq.km and will contain three themed areas: opportunity, sustainability and mobility. NZ has been invited to participate in the sustainability precinct.
Beard told Rural News Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UAE is NZ’s largest export market in the Middle East and the country’s 12th-largest trading partner.
“In addition NZ is close to securing a free trade deal with the wider area of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which includes the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” she says.
“If the trade deal comes off then our exports will become even more competitive than they are now and there will be increased interest from NZ firms to tackle those markets.”
This expo in Dubai will be an important showcase for NZ’s country brand, showing the range of things we can do as a country with a sustainability theme, Beard says. “GCC countries are rich in oil and gas, but lack farmland for food production and have high demand for imported food and drinks,” she says.
“NZ’s trusted dairy and meat exports meet some of that demand and there is increasing interest in food service exports into hotels, restaurant chains, etc.
“GCC countries are also motivated to reduce their trade reliance on oil and diversify their economies into high-tech and service sectors.”
Beard says the focus of NZ’s stand will be showcasing our innovation in sustainability, showing we can do more than just sell commodity products.
“I imagine we will be showcasing sustainability in farming practices right through to manufacturing and services.”
Bridges says showcasing NZ to the world is a crucial aspect of boosting economic growth. Expo 2020 will provide a springboard to promote us as an innovative, solution-focused economy to the 25 million visitors expected to attend from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
“It will also allow us to build on our strong economic and transport links to the UAE, which acts as a global air and sea logistics hub, providing access for NZ exporters to a much wider region. We’re already well connected by five direct daily Emirates flights, contributing $700 million to the economy,” says Bridges.
The expo will run from October 2020 to April 2021.
The organisers expect about 180 nations to participate. NZ is among the first 20 to formally confirm attendance.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says there is a limit to further dairy intensification in New Zealand and growing exports in the future will depend more on increasing the value of products rather than the volume.
The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand has surged as farmers were lured by higher prices for dairy products while demand for sheepmeat and wool waned. The latest agricultural statistics for 2016 show New Zealand had 6.5 million dairy cattle, up from just 2.9 million four decades ago. Dairy products are the country's largest commodity export worth $11.3 billion in the year through February, and the government aims to double the value of primary sector exports to $64 billion by 2025 from $32 billion in 2012.
However, a recent string of reports has singled out dairy intensification as one of the key factors, alongside urbanisation, putting pressure on the country's environment, valued for its pristine natural wilderness.
"It will be challenging for the dairy industry to grow," Guy said. "There's no way that we can double the number of cows in New Zealand. One big opportunity the dairy industry does have is about increasing the value, not the volume."
In the past two months, New Zealand's worsening environmental record has come under the microscope of the OECD, Vivid Economics and the Prime Minister's chief science adviser Peter Gluckman, adding weight to previous reports by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright. That's prompted a slew of editorials and opinion pieces in the country's major newspapers and a new freshwater policy from the government which aims to improve the 'swimmable' rating of lakes and rivers.
Today, New Zealand published its first Fresh Water report under the Environmental Reporting Act which showed urban areas have the biggest problem with polluted freshwater, but rural areas are showing a faster-declining trend in the quality of fresh water in lakes, rivers and streams. The environmental reports come ahead of a general election this September and Guy acknowledged they had heightened awareness going into the campaign.
He said farmers were working to improve their environmental standards, having voluntarily added about 26,000 kilometres of fencing over the past decade to exclude dairy cattle from waterways, and investing about $1 billion over the last five years to meet environmental obligations such as upgrading effluent systems, fencing, riparian planting and monitoring fertiliser usage. He said new technological advancements, such as more affordable nitrate probes and new cow breeds which produce fewer nitrates would assist farmers in the future.
"We realise that agriculture does have an impact on the environment. What has been lost in the recent debate has been the focus that farmers have on their environmental performance," Guy said. "What farmers and growers want is scientific tools in the toolbox that can help them address these challenges. There are moves afoot to allow farmers to make the changes that they need to make on farm."
He said the government was assisting the industry through putting extra funding into growing international trade, and its primary growth partnership and national science challenge initiatives, however he noted the focus was on "adding value as opposed to volume".
The debate should focus on what was the appropriate land use for the different catchments in the country, rather than what was the appropriate number of cows, and science would help inform those decisions.
"Those are decisions that regional councils will make on behalf of their community when it gets down to understanding their different water bodies and also they can place conditions on consents which they do do."
Guy said there was a "disconnect" between rural and urban communities, which the government and industry were trying to address by getting more urban children to understand farming.
"It's an ongoing challenge that anyone that's involved in the primary sector is very aware of," he said. "In the past, often children had the opportunity to get on their grandparents' farms and that has probably changed over time. If we can get more young pupils to understand where their milk comes from and where their meat comes from then that has got to be a good thing."
New Zealand's two big meat co-ops, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have both had new CEOs at the helm for the past two years, each charged with improving returns to their farmer-shareholders. Dean Hamilton and David Surveyor talked to Tony Benny from NZFarmer
Whether it’s apples from New Zealand or bananas from Ecuador, produce often travels great distances to get to the consumer and loss due to spoilage or other problems along the supply chain is costly and wasteful. But Swiss scientists have come up with a new sensor that could help solve this issue.
The temperature sensing device created by Empa Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology looks and acts like a piece of fruit, down to its shape, size, surface texture, color, and internal composition. The self-powered wireless electronic sensor is surrounded by a solid shell made of polystyrene (a type of plastic), water, and carbohydrates that simulate the fruit’s flesh, according to Thijs Defraeye, a scientist at Empa who is leading the project. Traditional sensors used for this application usually only measure the air temperature in the freight container. To accurately gauge how produce is holding up, though, you need to know the fruit’s core temperature, as a warm inner can lead to spoilage.
The device can be tailor-made for the particular type of fruit, even down to a specific cultivar, like a Braeburn apple or a Kent mango, and it can be packed directly with the fresh produce while in storage or during shipping, says Defraeye. Once the shipment arrives at its destination, the data—things like what the fruits’ core temperature was over time—can be quickly analyzed to determine if there were any problems during the trip.
A fruit spy among mangoes. Empa
In the U.S., an average of 12 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables are lost before making it to the consumer. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, globally about 1.4 billion tons of food—a value of more than $1 trillion—are lost or wasted each year, about 30 percent of which happens post-harvest (that includes storage and shipping).
Defraeye believes there are a variety of different applications for the sensor all along the supply chain—from greenhouses and orchards, to cold storage and ripening facilities, to the transportation sector—by exporters, importers, wholesalers, and retailers alike.
“They will be able to better pinpoint the location and reason for unexpected quality loss, which is essential for quality claims,” Defraeye tells Modern Farmer in an email.
Initial field tests on the sensors are under way and the researchers are now looking for potential industrial partners to manufacture the devices, which they believe would cost less than $50 per unit.