Agriculture news from week 10

New Zealand

Kiwifruit industry puts call out ‘far and wide’ for workers ahead of ‘stellar season’

With the kiwifruit harvest underway and a record-breaking season expected, the industry is putting a “call out far and wide” for workers amid a sector-wide labour shortage.

Nikki Johnson, chief executive of NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI), says around 23,000 workers are needed for this year’s harvest season, but with a lack of backpackers and foreign seasonal workers in the country due to our closed borders, many orchards are struggling to fill positions.

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Dairy prices leap 15% but don’t go and buy a new Range Rover just yet, one farmer says

Waikato farmer Ben Moore had to wipe the sleep out of his eyes when he woke up to read the figures of the latest Global Dairy Trade auction on Wednesday morning.

Dairy prices jumped 15 per cent overnight, driven by demand for whole milk powder and butter before the season comes to an end.

Moore leases 100 hectares and owns another 45ha in Okoroire near Matamata. The farm milks 450 cows.

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‘Pregnancy test’ for cheese could help take guesswork out of ripening process

New research from scientists in Australia could help take some of the guesswork out of cheesemaking, allowing producers to check the quality of a batch much earlier in the ripening process.

A team from RMIT University in Melbourne found a way of revealing the cheese’s “fingerprints” – or biomarkers – around a month after the ageing process has begun, something that could alert cheesemakers to any “red flags” before they spend months or years proceeding to ripen their product to perfection.

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Organic apple growers Bostock take advantage of Vietnam’s ‘booming middle class’

The country’s largest organic apple grower is expanding further into Vietnam, in a bid to capitalise on a rapidly growing market.

Bostock, which also has offices in Russia and North America, announced it will now have “staff on the ground” in Ho Chi Minh City.

Jane Maclean, Bostock’s international marketing manager, says with the company’s apple volumes into Vietnam increasing 2000 percent in the past five years the country was a “clear winner” when deciding where further investment should be focused.

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Southland meatworks plant turns to automation to improve safety

A meatworks plant in Southland will soon have a million-dollar automation system in place aiming to make work safer for employees.

Alliance Group on Monday announced it would be investing $16 million in a fully automated storage and warehouse management system for frozen products at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill.

David Surveyor, chief executive of the agricultural co-operative, said the system will improve health and safety at the plant and no jobs will be lost as a result.

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Cotton to benefit from return to normality: ABARES

WITH the COVID-19 pandemic hitting demand for cotton hard, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences analysts are predicting sales to rise as the globe slowly returns to normal.

Chris Mornement, in ABARES’ Outlook report, said the world cotton indicator price is forecast to average US83 cents in 2021-22, up from US80 cents in 2020-21.

He said strong import demand from China and recovering global demand more generally are forecast to support prices throughout 2021.

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WA barley set to target markets in Vietnam and India

INDIA and Vietnam are likely to be the best targets for Western Australian barley over the next decade, with a focus on grain quality critically important to ensure market access.

The barley outlook for the next 10 years was presented by Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) barley markets manager Mary Raynes at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Update in Perth last week.

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Grain prices trend higher with more demand and climate variability: ABARES

GRAIN growers can look forward to reasonable prices over the short-term as tight coarse grain supplies influence markets before seeing gradual decline as supplies build before long-term gains once again on the back of lower stocks.

That was the opinion of Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) researchers Peter Lock and Amelia Brown who contributed information on grain in ABARES’ Outlook report.

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wool price

Hopes for recovery in global consumer demand to lift wool prices higher

After a slow improve through the first couple of months of 2021, hopes of increased global demand remain for Australia’s wool market, which has successfully hovered around the 1300 cents a kilogram mark during recent weeks.

Over 46,000 bales were offered nationally this week, with the eastern market indictor remaining relatively stable, albeit some price movements amongst individual micron categories.

The EMI finished the week four cents above last weeks level at 1310 cents per kilogram, clean.

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Coronavirus prompts lift in international inquiries for Queen Garnet plum

THE continued concerns surrounding coronavirus are helping drive export sales of Australia’s Queen Garnet plum.

The fruit has been heavily promoted on the back of its health benefits with various research showing it to contain more antioxidants than other plum varieties.

Queensland-based company, Nutrafruit, owns the global licence to the fruit.

Nutrafruit chief executive officer Luke Couch said it was projecting a 300 per cent growth this year in export markets, with countries including the United Arab Emirates, China, Canada, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore now accounting for up to 50pc of this year’s harvest.

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South America

Brazilian soy exports in March should reach 15 million tons: 250 ships waiting to load

Brazilian soy shipments this month should reach 15 million tons, which could establish a new record for a month, according to the maritime agency Cargonave, considering the 250 ships in the export line-up, a growth of more than 40% compared to the number seen in the same period last year.

If all this volume were shipped, Brazil could even surpass the export record set for a single month – around 14.85 million tons – registered in April 2020, as registered by government data. However the logistic challenges are great, especially in a rainy season like this year, which delays the loading of soy from the field to the ports, according to experts.

“Despite the delay in the harvest, there is already enough volume harvested to export 15 million tons, even more considering that the harvest should advance well in the coming weeks.

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Cherries From Chile Announces 1.8 Million Yuan Lucky Draw Grand Winner

During China’s holiday season, consumers cannot go wrong in giving to their friends, family and colleagues the gift of Chilean cherries. This year, thanks to the Chinese New Year 1.8 Million Yuan Super Lucky Draw held by the Chilean Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), one lucky cherry fan was repaid many times over for her considerate gesture of gifting Chilean cherries during the holidays — as the grand winner of the lucky draw, she was presented the keys to a brand-new cherry red Tesla Model 3 at a ceremony held in Shanghai on March 2.

The gift was presented by ASOEX’s newly hired China Marketing Manager Patrick Xiao, as well as ASOEX’s China Marketing Coordinator Freya Huang and representatives from Tesla.

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China’s Imports of Chilean Sugar Plums Due To Rise Modestly in 2020/21

With Chile now into the second half of its sugar plum export season, volumes to China are expected to see “positive growth” according to the Chilean Stone Fruit Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX). This bright news comes amidst expectations of a decline in global exports of other Chilean stone fruits this season due to storms in early February that damaged crops.

Sugar plums originate from Europe and belong to the species Prunus domestica, as opposed to most other commercial red- and black-skinned plum varieties, which are of the species Prunus salicina. Chile’s sugar plum production was historically used almost exclusively for making dried plums rather than being marketed as a fresh fruit. However, this all changed when Chilean exporters began sending small volumes to China (165 tons in the 2014/15 season).

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Argentina’s soybean sector in good position for harvest 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Argentina’s oilseed sector is in a good position for the 2020-21 harvest following oilseed worker strikes and dry weather, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Despite the challenges in December 2020 and early 2021, the oilseed workers union and Argentinian government have come to a new deal and rains in January helped circumvent some of the dry weather.

The USDA forecasts Argentina’s 2020-21 marketing year soybean production to be 47.5 million tonnes, a 2.5-million-tonne decrease compared to its January estimate.

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Food Updates

Beverage consumers increasingly health-conscious says research

Research from Kerry has suggested beverage consumers are keen to look after their health more than ever before in the wake of the pandemic.

New consumer research has revealed that 65 percent of functional beverage consumers are more worried about their health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

whitepaper released by taste and nutrition company Kerry called Understanding Consumer Drivers in Beverages has examined the key health priorities that will drive the functional beverage market.

2,662 beverage consumers across the UK, Germany, Poland and Spain were surveyed as part of the research.

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Small fat reduction could save thousands of lives say researchers 

A new study from scientists at Queen Mary University London claims a small reduction in fat in some of the country’s favourite foods could prevent thousands of deaths over the coming years.

A new study led by researchers from the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London, has proposed a comprehensive fat reduction model, which they claim would be an effective strategy to reduce excessive calories in manufactured and out-of-home food and over five years prevent 4.5 million people from becoming overweight and developing obesity.

Action on Sugar is calling on the Government to set mandatory targets and/or impose appropriate levies on food manufacturers who fail to comply with them.

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FDA writes to manufacturers over toxic contaminants in baby food

The FDA has reminded manufacturers of their responsibilities in regards to toxic elements in baby food as the administration sets out a plan to tackle the issue.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a letter to the food industry, which it says reminds manufacturers of foods intended for babies or young children of their existing responsibilities in relation to toxic contamination of the food supply.

Secondly, the agency has announced that it will soon put into action a plan aimed at reducing toxic elements in foods for babies and young children to levels as low as is “reasonably achievable”.

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Israeli AI technology senses fruit stress, advises grower

AN Israeli technology company is using artificial intelligence to grow better fruit.

But it’s still up to the farmer to turn on the tap, more or less.

SupPlant, a precision agriculture hardware-software company has built a reputation for being able to sense and monitor plant stress.

Now, the company has converted this expertise into a system that uses agronomic algorithms, sensors, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud-based technology in order to advance crops.

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California Walnut Commission campaign focuses on walnuts’ omega-3 content

FOLSOM, CALIF. – The California Walnut Commission has launched its second annual “Power of 3” global marketing campaign intended to emphasize the rich, essential plant-based omega-3 ALA content of walnuts — 2.5 grams per ounce.This campaign builds on one of California walnuts’ core benefits as the only nut that is a rich source of plant-based omega-3 ALA. ALA is an essential nutrient that can only be provided through the diet and has been associated with benefits for heart health, brain health and healthy aging.A one-ounce serving of walnuts provides plant-based protein (4 grams), fiber (2 grams) and is a good source of magnesium. Walnuts are also a good source of vitamin B6, copper and manganese — all of which contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system.

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