Northland looks set to be the launching pad for a new global food product.
Cocavo, made from a combination of organic coconut and avocado oils, has just had a "soft launch" in Whangarei and is positioned to fulfil the expectations of its investors who predict it to be this decade's hottest new food item.
The product is a world first, says Cocavo Ltd co-founder and general manager Neville Montefiore.
It was designed to be the ultimate cooking oil giving an extra 5 per cent of flavour and "pizazz" in every dish, he says.
Apart from being lower in saturated fat than regular coconut oil, it has the health benefits of avocado oil, plus all the high heat cooking qualities of both oils.
"The taste is very appealing and lends itself to a wide variety of cooking styles," Mr Montefiore said.
Cocavo, which is set to reach full production by next month, has attracted interest from celebrity chef Simon Gault who earlier this month, through his The Five Percent company, bought a minority holding in the business.
Managing director Andrew Darling discusses the decision to rollout Darling Group – the new overarching brand connecting Global Fresh New Zealand and Australia, Just Avocados and JH Leavy & CoFamily. Fresh. Fun. It’s the tagline of newly formed brand Darling Group, which incorporates long-established businesses Global Fresh New Zealand, Global Fresh Australia, Just Avocados and, most recently, JH Leavy & Co.
Since acquiring the Brisbane-based wholesaler JH Leavy & Co in July 2016, the group of companies decided it needed an overarching brand for its horticultural operations, which range from growing and packing to exporting, sales and marketing, as well as distribution and logistics.
“We engaged a brand specialist in New Zealand, where we went through a process of looking at our core values, what we represent, and what we’re trying to achieve,” explained managing director Andrew Darling. “And through that process we came out with our brand – Darling Group.”
The tagline ‘Family. Fresh. Fun – Australasia’s favourite fresh produce family’ reflects the group’s family involvement in the business, not only with Andrew Darling, his sons Jacob, Nathan and Andrew’s brother Michael, but also in its familial approach to business, including its relationships with staff and customers.
Some of the brands under Darling Group include Mr Avocado, Mr Kiwi and a soon-to-be-released blueberry brand, reflecting some of the fun side of the family-owned vertically integrated business.
As a significant grower of kiwifruit and avocados in its own right, Darling said the group understands the needs of growers, and the requirements from packing to exporting, importing to wholesaling, bringing efficiencies throughout the value chain.
“Because we’re integrated through the value chain, we can operate efficiently while having total transparency of cost, and we control the sale – this is our point of difference and we’re striving for outstanding grower outcomes through our use of high performing, experienced people,” Darling explained.
With state-of-the-art ripening facilities and 4,500m2 of warehousing space, the acquisition of JH Leavy & Co has significantly upped Darling Group’s scale and capability.
“One of the challenges of operating out of New Zealand is that we are constrained not only by the range of commodities that we have available but also the volume of these commodities that we can produce in respect to international marketing opportunities,” Darling said. “So these were some of the real drivers to set up in Australia, and here we now have a broad base of commodities with a real Australian platform and presence.”
The next step for the group will be consolidating until it fully understands the breadth of its new business arm, maximising its wholesale, warehousing, distribution and service provision, including ripening, with a look to start taking the business to retailers in the coming 12 to 24 months.
“The way of the future is with direct supply to retailers, so that’s an obvious place that we’ll begin to seek business with our raft of commodities,” Darling said.
The breadth of commodities that Darling Group now has access to, as well as the scale, not only creates opportunities for the business in Australia, but also in Asia.
“There are opportunities to take healthy, safe and high quality food from Australia to Asia; as the middle class grows in India and China, and people are becoming more connected with internet and mobiles, and increasingly seeking healthy safe food, we’re well positioned in Australia and New Zealand to cater to that demand for high quality fruit.
“I see providing high quality produce to affluent, top end retailers and the middle class as a massive opportunity,” Darling continued. “It’s exciting – produce, generally, is an exciting industry to be in and it’s full of passionate, hard working people, which makes it fun and a great place to be.”
The full interview with Andrew Darling appears in the summer edition of Produce Plus, and the December/January edition of Asiafruit.
| A presss releas from Asia Fruit | Dec 21, 2016 |
Private equity-owned Patties Foods, the maker of brands such as Nanna’s, Herbert Adams and Four’N Twenty pies, has bought New Zealand company Leader Products, a manufacturer of frozen convenience food products.
Patties Foods, bought by Pacific Equity Partners for $232 million in September, says the two companies are natural partners, both focused on manufacturing high quality frozen foods.
Leader, started by Tony Peterson and Richard Crabb in 1998, exports to Australia and Asia and has doubled revenue in the past five years. The product range includes meatballs, burger patties, toppas, finger foods and meal solutions under the brands Leader, Tony’s Tucka and Kauri Coast.
Peterson will continue as managing director and will maintain a stake in the combined business.
Paul Hitchcock, CEO of Patties, says the combination of Patties and Leader will provide significant growth opportunities for both companies.
“Leader is a great New Zealand success story and we are very keen to support the team in their continued growth,” he says.
“For example, we see immediate opportunities to leverage the Patties sales force in Australia to bring more of Leader’s great product range to Australian customers.”
The cost of the acquisition hasn’t been revealed. The transaction is expected to complete in early 2017 following regulatory approval.
Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming progress on improving food labelling, including consistent labelling of added fats and oils that are high in saturated fatty acids.
“As Food Safety Minister my priority for New Zealand consumers is food safety and public health. For nutrition purposes, the labelling of high saturated oils like palm oil and coconut oil should be consistent with New Zealand and Australia’s dietary guidelines. I made New Zealand’s position clear at today’s meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation,” Mrs Goodhew says.
The Forum discussed Recommendation 12, which states that where the terms “added fats” and “added vegetable oils” are used in the ingredient list of a food, they should be followed by a bracketed list describing the source of the fat or oil, for example: added vegetable oils (“sunflower oil, palm oil”).
“This recommendation addresses health concerns about high saturated fats contained in some oils and provides consistency with New Zealand’s dietary guidelines.”
The Forum has a framework that it applies when developing food labelling policy. This framework is underpinned by an issues hierarchy. The hierarchy means that mandatory labelling applies for food safety and preventative health reasons, and voluntary labelling for consumer values.
“The Forum agreed that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), in consultation with the Food Regulation Standing Committee, should prepare a programme of work that will address this and to present this at the next Forum meeting in April 2017.
“This programme of work will further investigate labelling approaches, for providing information on sugars and added fats/vegetables oils, as separate issues.
“New Zealand officials will lead policy work with the intention of identifying next steps in relation to naming sources of fats and oils to support consumers to make informed choices, consistent with the Australian and New Zealand dietary guidelines,” says Mrs Goodhew.
Palmerston North, Massey University, Wednesday 18 May 2016 - A scientific collaboration aimed at protecting and enhancing New Zealand's $50 billion-plus food sector was officially launched today.
The New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre joins seven science research partners to form a virtual research centre, which will be jointly funded by the Government and industry over the next five years.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew launched the centre at the Manawatū campus of Massey University, alongside the funding partners, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association and Zespri.
The centre’s role is to promote, co-ordinate, and deliver food safety science and research for all of New Zealand, where, according to the Investors Guide to the New Zealand Food and Beverage Industry report issued in November, the top 100 food and beverage firms collectively generate annual revenue of $51 billion.
The science research collaborators are crown research institutes AgResearch, Environmental Science and Research, Plant and Food Research, as well as the private scientific research organisation the Cawthron Institute, and three universities – the University of Auckland, the University of Otago and Massey, the host institution.
The centre's board will be independently chaired by biotechnologist and chemical engineer Dr Kevin Marshall, who also chairs the Riddet Institute, a national centre of research excellence based around food science.
"The centre is an important collaboration between Government, industry and researchers right across the value chain," Dr Marshall says. "It will help to protect and enhance the reputation of food produced by New Zealand, maintain and enhance its exports, increase collective market access and protect public health.”
Funding for the centre will total $4.1 million per annum, with the Government committing $2.05 million per annum and industry matching that.
Dairy Companies Association chairman Malcolm Bailey says the investment shows a clear commitment to maintaining New Zealand’s global reputation for the best food safety outcomes. “Our investment is aimed at future-proofing New Zealand’s reputation for safe food through greater co-ordination, and a stronger linkage to the world’s leading science and research.”
Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie says, “New Zealand’s global reputation for strong food safety outcomes is critically important to the success of the red meat sector. The meat industry already invests in science and research to support and protect this reputation and this collaboration is another example of the industry’s absolute commitment to food safety.”
Zespri general manager for innovation Carol Ward says, “this is an important and vital research partnership that will support businesses like Zespri where the focus is on providing the highest quality kiwifruit to consumers around the world. Our success is underpinned by trust in the safety of our produce and high quality research will help New Zealand food producers to continue to lead the way in food safety.”
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment chief executive David Smol says the partnership will bring the best minds and institutions together. “New Zealand’s food exports are dependent on an internationally credible food safety system, which must be underpinned by the best available science," Mr Smol says. "The work to be done at the centre will be a huge help in meeting our export growth targets."
Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne says the research centre will contribute to ensuring the food safety of consumers in New Zealand and around the world. “The research from the centre will focus on minimising risks of foodborne illnesses by looking at short-term issues as well as pre-empting future food safety risks across all sectors to ensure that consumers can continue to have confidence that their food is safe.”
Centre establishment director Professor Nigel French, from Massey, says the centre will help to continue to build New Zealand's reputation as a global leader in the supply of safe food "by delivering world-class strategic scientific research driven by the needs of government, consumers and industry”.
11 May 2016 - As the world grapples with a seemingly insurmountable food wastage crisis, one company believes it has developed a new technology to help deal with the problem before it starts.
It is estimated that about one-third of all food produced worldwide goes to waste each year, worth around US$1 trillion.
While much effort goes in to dealing with food waste at the consumer end, most of the problem occurs somewhere between the producer and the retailer. In the Asia Pacific region, 15% to 50% of fruit is estimated to be lost between the grower and the market.
This is where New Zealand startup RipeTime, which is talking to potential investors in Taiwan, believes it has the answer. The company’s technology detects extremely low levels of gas in the atmosphere, which is used to track fruit quality as it is moved through the supply chain.
“We can smell, and essentially taste fruit, months before it is currently possible to do,” founder Jon Lowy told The News Lens in an interview in Taipei.
The company believes there are many markets its product can be used in – including testing for the presence of drugs. It is currently focused on fruit and vegetables, which have the highest wastage rates of any food, and flowers. The UN puts global food losses and waste at 40% to 50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, compared to 20% for meat and dairy and 35% for fish.
Major costs and lost revenue
The RipeTime device collects atmospheric data from within fruit packaging immediately after it has been harvested. In the case of apples, the data it collects can tell producers whether a particular box has apples with problems such as early stage rot. In one brand the company has tested its product on, 1% of the apples have this problem.
“The brand that owns this apple, 1% of their customers bite into them and taste dirt. It ruins their market image and people don’t buy [the apples] again,” Lowy says.
RipeTime director Michael Vukcevic says if the problem can be identified immediately after harvest, the apples can still be eaten within 25 days – that compares to the one-year life expectancy normal apples have in cold storage.
“They know, when they see that signal, they have to get it to a market, sold and consumed within 25 days,” he says. “What it is not for, is to be put on a boat to be sent to China, Japan and the US.”
The value of food losses and waste amount to roughly US$680 billion in industrialized countries and US$310 billion in developing countries. As well as the costs of produce that goes off and the potential brand damage, there is also the lost revenue companies face.
Lowy and Vukcevic give the example of New Zealand kiwifruit exporter Zespri, which is a well-known brand in Taiwan. It sells more than 20 million trays of kiwifruit to China and around 10 million to Taiwan annually. In Zespri’s best year for what is known as cost of quality – the total cost of sorting, losing and disposing of fruit – the company still took a NZ$150 million hit.
“It costs them NZ$150 million, by not being able to determine and predict the condition of fruit accurately,” Vukcevic says. That doesn’t include the revenue lost from not selling fruit at a time when there is nothing else in the market but demand is high.
Lowy says just last year Zespri scrapped millions of trays of fruit late in the season – a time when a single kiwifruit could fetch CNY$30 in China.
Taiwanese eye investment
RipeTime was in Taiwan last week and has been talking to potential investors and customers around the world. The company has already raised cash and run a rights issue with shareholders – a small group of early stage investors including the New Zealand government's Venture Investment Fund. It is now looking for more capital while concurrently negotiating its first commercial deals. The cash the company raises will go toward the commercialization process and continuing research and development.
Vukcevic says the company could spend US$5 million to US$20 million over the next few years depending on the investment it secures.
“The amount of money equals the speed at which we would travel,” Vukcevic says. “We are very much of the view that we have de-risked the technology, we know that it works. The market validation we have had to-date has been very strong. We are now in that execution and roll-out stage, which for us is very exciting.”
In terms of competition, Lowy says that most other players in the market are focused on developing the electronic sensor technology, which is used after the RipeTime product is used.
“Amazingly, nobody does this,” Lowy says of the competitive space RipeTime is in – he says most testing at the early stage is still done manually.
While the company is currently focused on securing the capital it needs to grow – it is very upbeat about the venture capital and investment scene in Taiwan – the potential impact of the solution has not been lost.
The UN notes that if a quarter of the 1.3 billion tonnes currently lost or wasted globally each year was saved, “it would be enough to feed 870 million people.”
Vukcevic says if food wastage in Chile alone could be reduced by 10%, “we can pretty feed everyone in Africa.”
“Those sorts of changes have a significant impact," he says.