Agriculture news from week 22

New Zealand


Sweet as! How a Northland family grew New Zealand’s first commercial pineapple crop

On a hillside smothered with ripening pineapples near Whangārei, Owen and Linda Schafli are harvesting their first commercial pineapple crop of between 5000 and 10,000 pineapples from their 22,000 plants.

Schafli grew tropical fruit in South Africa before moving his young family to New Zealand in 2008. “After a few years in Hamilton, we bought these 6.8 hectares at Parua Bay to grow mainly bananas and pineapples, but we’re also experimenting with other tropicals such as dragonfruit, papaya, sugarcane and coffee.”

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Weaning NZ off China depends on diplomacy elsewhere, exporters say

Dairy exporters say New Zealand must make better progress on tariffs in heavily protected markets before they can reduce their reliance on China.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has continued this week to urge exporters to diversify their markets, as New Zealand faces pressure from Western allies to address China’s human rights record.

In an interview published in the Guardian on Tuesday, Mahuta spoke about New Zealand’s concern it might be penalised with tariffs or other economic pressure from China as the more outspoken Australia has.

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Weather: Canterbury farmers relieved state of emergency declared following widespread flooding

A mid-Canterbury farmer is relieved a state of emergency has been declared, saying there are a lot of serious issues to play out over the course of the day.

David Clark, who is the president of Federated Farmers for the region, said his day began at 4.30am helping to rescue passengers trapped in a car that had been swept away by floodwaters.

“Fire and Emergency weren’t able to get [there] the occupants had been swept off the road so fortunately managed to get out to them with one of our large tractors and broke the windows and get the people out.”

He also assisted with the rescue of a farmer stuck in his tractor.

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Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny says Fonterra’s reduction of milk price forecast for the current season is ‘anticlimactic’

Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny, who has a good track record of picking the price farmers will get for their milk, is “puzzled” by Fonterra’s “anticlimactic” reduction in its milk price forecast for the current season.

Fonterra has narrowed down the milk price forecast range for the about-to-end season to between $7.45 and $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids. That gives a ‘midpoint’ price of $7.55, which is actually a 5c reduction when compared with the co-operative’s previous forecast.

“We must admit we are puzzled by the downgrade,” Penny says. He had been forecasting a $7.90 price but says he will now “take this one on the chin” and reduce his forecast to $7.55 in line with the Fonterra new pick.

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Guy Trafford notes that while recent rains flush rivers, they also fill aquifers. But the time it takes to clear nitrates is vastly different between each system. And that sets up special risks for drinking water supplies

The weather has certainly added another dimension to the weekend. Having farmed in back country Gisborne when Cyclone Bola wrought its devastation, I’m not unfamiliar with extreme rain events but the current rainfall, while still not in the same league as Bola was (we got 500mls in a 48hr period while the heaviest falls got up to 1,000 mls) would still be the heaviest and most prolonged experienced since then.

The concerning thing is that there is still another 18 hours or so forecast to come.

Where I reside is an hour or so north of Ashburton and while roads and paddocks are covered with water here it is not looking like there is the potential that those further south may experience. Between 10am and midday Sunday I went on a ‘little excursion’ to check out a couple of the local rivers nearby.

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Majority seeding into ideal conditions

WIDESPREAD rainfall across WA’s agricultural region brought delight to farmers as many were seeding into good subsoil moisture, which for some were the best conditions they had ever experienced.

Shaun Kalajzic, Cadoux, was one of those growers and said seeding so far had been “fantastic”.

“We’ve never really seeded into conditions like this that we can remember,” Mr Kalajzic said.

“By the time we finish, 80 per cent of our crop will be already out of the ground by the end of May.”

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grain market

Grain markets rebound sharply

For much of last week the grain markets continued their steady trend lower.

However, that all changed on Thursday night with sharp gains across the board, with a modest setback again on Friday night as the US headed into a long weekend.

The trigger for the rally came from corn with a limit up move with strong old and new season weekly corn sales reported.

As well, some in the trade had been expecting China to cancel some orders, or at least delay them, but it turned out to be the opposite.

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High density mangoes drive profitability

HIGH density mango plantings are producing up to 66 tonnes/hectare of fruit a year – a staggering 3.5 times more than existing low-density plantings.

That’s the finding of the Transforming Mango Futures project, which was launched at the Northern Australia Food Futures conference in Darwin last week.

Project lead Geoff Dickinson, DAF Queensland, said the industry has long been interested in transforming from low-yielding, low-density orchards into high-yielding, high-density orchard systems.

Funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia, the project team – DAF, Manbulloo, Marto’s Mangoes and the Australian Mango Industry Association – trialled high-density planting across three sites in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

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grain market2

Big grain production numbers flagged

AUSTRALIA is set to consolidate on last year’s good harvest if early forecast for the 2021-22 crop come to fruition.

While official Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences estimates are not yet out, other forecasters have dipped their toe in the water at this early stage of the season.

IKON Commodities have come out with a number of 29.5 million tonnes of wheat nationwide.

While this is well back on their figure for last year’s crop of 34.8m tonnes, it is still well above long-term historical averages.

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Will world cattle prices catch up to Australia?

THE possibility of the world catching up to Australia, which for the past year has had the most expensive cattle, is the talk around the rails this week.

Should the shrinking herds and export hurdles developing in the larger beef supplying nations lead to a worldwide shortage and push export prices up, a cattle market in high territory could be cemented for years for Australian producers.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator is holding its ground, despite some lift in supply, particularly in the north. It finished yesterday at 885 cents a kilogram carcase weight, which is not far off the record 910c set a month ago and is 145c above the rate for this time last year.

While there is no question it is local conditions – that is short supply pushing up against red hot restocker demand – that is driving young cattle prices, the potential for solid global red meat prices also has an underpinning effect.

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South America


Argentine government not fair with milk producers

As tensions between the Government of President Alberto Fernández and rural producers seem to be focused on the 30-day ban on meat exports, the Argentine Rural Confederations (CRA) issued a statement this weekend headed “Does the milk producer not matter?”

CRA Vice President Gabriel De Raedemaeker explained that the cancellation of meat exports will not bring down the price within the domestic market as Fernández had intended, and he also warned of other conflicts such as the one with milk producers are yet to fully surface should the government stick to its current policies.

The CRA statement highlights that “The Argentine milk producer receives the lowest price in the world for his milk.” And he “produces 30% more than the milk necessary to make all the dairy products that are consumed on the Argentine table.”

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crop survey

SHAFFE Releases Southern Hemisphere Fresh Fruit Outlook Survey Results

The Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters recently released the results of a fresh fruit outlook survey undertaken across member countries in the Southern Hemisphere. The survey results suggest a generally positive outlook for the Southern Hemisphere fruit industry, with major growth areas being e-commerce and consumer health trends. Data collected through the survey indicate that China is the second-biggest export destination for Southern Hemisphere fruit producers, after the United States.

SHAFFE is a trade organization comprising many leading trade associations from across the Southern Hemisphere, including major fruit-producing countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and Uruguay.

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Chilean Grapes Maintain Leading Position in China Market

Chile, the world’s biggest exporter of fresh table grapes, easily maintained its status as the largest supplier of imported grapes to China in 2020, according to data from the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX). Furthermore, although the overall export volume of table grapes out of Chile is projected to fall in the 2020/21 season, ASOEX has not seen any indication that the quality of table grape arrivals in China has been affected.

Overall, Chilean table grape producers and exporters are continuing to invest in diversifying their variety offerings to China and other global markets, and ASOEX’s Chilean Table Grape Committee has continued to support consumption in the China market through active promotional efforts both online and offline.

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Food Updates


Processed foods can be good

A survey has revealed that most Brits are clueless over what ‘processed’ means and the majority associate it with being unhealthy.

The word ‘processed’ has a reputation – a survey of more than 2,500 UK adults has revealed that 51 percent associate it with unhealthy foods.

Interestingly, the survey by Upfield also discovered how many of us (nearly two thirds of Brits) don’t know or aren’t sure what processed foods are.

Across the UK, there are also regional commonalities in how people perceive food – the lowest percentage of any region in the UK to consider processed foods as unhealthy are the Scots, with 46 percent saying so. This increases to 58 percent in the North East of England.

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Dragon fruit – a majestic appearance and health benefits to match
Introducing the eye catching dragon fruit – a delight to our senses and health alike, as Tania Dey explains.An exotic looking fruit has recently entered the tropical fruit market. Attracting consumers with its bright magenta coloured spikes and an equally appealing white dotted interior, this majestic fruit is called Dragon Fruit or Pitaya or Strawberry Pear (Hylocereus undatus).  The flowers of this cactus plant, also known as the Honolulu queen, open at night only. The most popular variety has a white pulp studded with tiny little black seeds, although the less common types include red pulp with red skin and white pulp with yellow skin. It is mildly sweet and tastes somewhat like a pear and kiwi with a crunchy texture. This fruit makes an ideal ingredient for smoothies and fruit salads.

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Why cheese continues to be a hit with consumers

Heloise Le Norcy-Trott, Group Marketing Director for Lactalis UK & Ireland, explains why one of the most popular food products with the longest history continues to resonate with modern consumers.

Several consumer trends are currently shaping the cheese category, which is why understanding shoppers’ purchasing decisions is vital, especially during the pandemic. At Lactalis UK & Ireland, we pride ourselves on placing the consumer at the heart of everything we do, which has helped position our cheese brands – Galbani, Président and Seriously – as market leaders.

Cheese is one of the nation’s favourite foods and since the market analysis company IRI began publishing its weekly Covid Flash Report, the product has consistently featured in the top 10 fastest-growing categories.

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Enzymes add label-friendly functionality to bakery formulations

Enzymes are proteins that can be added to bakery formulations to improve functionality or replace conventional ingredients that are no longer label-friendly such as DATEM, SSL, mono- and diglycerides and L-cysteine.

“Enzymes help improve baked goods because they can act on compounds found in wheat flour — starch, lipids, protein, arabinoxylans — which all help make up the structure of dough,” said Sherill Cropper, PhD, new product development manager, Lesaffre Yeast Corp. “By hydrolyzing these components this makes it easier to process and machine the dough, enhance the volume of the final product and extend shelf life.”

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Trends driving innovation in dairy and dairy alternatives

CHICAGO — The dairy alternative space is one of the fastest-growing plant-based categories, with non-dairy milk driving the market. This was communicated during the “Discover Dairy & Dairy Alternatives: Trends & Innovative Products” session at Natural Products Expo West Virtual Week on May 24.

Cheese alternatives are predicted to be the “next frontier” in plant-based innovation, said Adrienne Smith, senior food business reporter, New Hope Network, Boulder, Colo.

CHICAGO — The dairy alternative space is one of the fastest-growing plant-based categories, with non-dairy milk driving the market. This was communicated during the “Discover Dairy & Dairy Alternatives: Trends & Innovative Products” session at Natural Products Expo West Virtual Week on May 24.

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