Word of the day

May 2, 2014

Contemn – treat or regard with contempt, disdain or scorn; despise; consider and treat as mean and despicable.


Rural round-up

May 2, 2014

Canada, dairy and the TPP – Keith Woodford:

Canada and New Zealand are currently in serious negotiations as to future rules for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In relation to dairy products, we sit on different sides of the debate. We want free access. In contrast, they want to retain their supply management quotas which control how much milk is produced, and hence protect the farm-gate price of milk.

The widespread assumption in New Zealand is that free trade will open up new markets in Canada. The current dairy market there is 8 billion litres per annum. To put that in perspective, our total milk production in New Zealand is about 20 billion litres per annum. So on the surface, free trade could open up exciting new opportunities.

A recent report from The Conference Board of Canada places a different perspective on matters. They agree with New Zealand that Canada should get rid of its supply management scheme. However, they see the outcome being that Canada would rapidly transform its industry and become a major exporter. . .

Dairying’s other big 2014 vote – Willy Leferink:

This year will see a general election but you have to wonder if three-year cycles are sufficient.  Let’s face it, year one is learning the ropes and doing what you promised.  Year two is fine tuning what you’ve done or running a mile from what you’ve done, meanwhile, year three is all about getting re-elected.

Many systems have four or even five year cycles and DairyNZ’s impending vote on its $61 million industry good levy fits into the five year cycle.

It isn’t appreciated by many who bemoan the lack of research and development in New Zealand, that every time my girls come in for milking, 3.6 cents in every kilogram of milksolids they produce goes towards R&D.  This money is collected by the milk processors and passed to our industry good body, DairyNZ.  It undertakes a whole host of research activities that no farmer could ever hope to do individually.  DairyNZ further leverages what it gets from us farmers in larger programmes like the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP. . . .

Westland Milk Products Registered for Infant Nutrition Products Export to China:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative has confirmed today that it is registered to export dairy products including infant formula milk powder to China.

The company has been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Chinese authorities and has been notified of its registration with the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA).

“We support the Chinese moves to impose greater controls and stricter standards around the importation of infant formula. Ultimately this will benefit New Zealand exporters by giving Chinese consumers more confidence in our products” says Westland CEO Rod Quin. . .

Synlait misses China regulation deadline as it waits on factory build – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the dairy processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy as a cornerstone shareholder, missed out in the first round of approvals under China’s new regulation of imported infant formula as it waits for the completion of its new processing and packaging plant.

The Ministry for Primary Industry expects Synlait will receive approval once the new dry blending and consumer packaging factory is built which is scheduled for completion next month, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Companies without the new registration won’t be able to sell infant formula produced from today in China.

A2 Milk Company, whose Platinum infant formula is manufactured at Synlait’s Canterbury plant, also missed out on registration, which includes demonstrating a close association between brand owner and manufacturer. . .

Synlait Milk confident of China registration:

The initial list of registered New Zealand companies issued by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) did not include Synlait Milk as an exporter of finished infant formula into China. This announcement has been anticipated by the Company for some time.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has confirmed that it expects Synlait Milk to receive registration following the approval of its Risk Management Plan by MPI for its dry blending and consumer packaging facility. Construction of this facility is scheduled for completion in June 2014. . .

FGC welcomes Nutricia’s investment:

The intended acquisition of New Zealand milk-drying and infant formula blending and packing capacity by French-owned Nutricia is a further indication of confidence in the New Zealand food and beverage industry, says the Food & Grocery Council.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says today’s announcement is significant.

“This is great news for the industry and for New Zealand’s infant formula manufacturing capacity.

“Having such a renowned multinational company purchasing two New Zealand firms to ensure it has a major infant formula local manufacturing facility affirms once again that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains among the best and safest in the world.” . . . .

Comvita annual earnings pip 2013, meeting guidance; shares fall:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health products from manuka honey, said annual earnings and revenue eclipsed 2013, meeting guidance, as recent apiary acquisitions improved its security of supply. The shares fell.

The Te Puke-based company said net profit was about $7.5 million in the 12 months ended March 31 from $7.4 million a year earlier, on revenue of $115.3 million, up from $103.5 million in 2013. The company had previously said it anticipated beating 2013 profit and sales.

“When unconstrained by raw material shortages, as happened in the second six months, we clearly have growth momentum,” chief executive Brett Howlett said in a statement. “The strategy of acquiring apiary businesses is working to alleviate the supply shortage pressures.” . . .


Rajen Prasad retiring

May 2, 2014

Labour list MP Rajen Prasad  has announced he’s retiring from politics at the end of this term.

. . . Two other Labour MPs are going – Ross Robertson after serving 26 years in parliament and Shane Jones, who will soon resign from Parliament . . .

That’s three down but still leaves Labour looking old and stale.

 


Friday’s answers

May 2, 2014

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”  ?

2. Who wrote The Grapes of Wrath?

3. It’s chou in French, cavolo in Italian,  repollo in Spanish and kāpeti in Maori – what is it in English?

4. What is a  mangelwurzel?

5. If you could eat only one fruit and one vegetable which would they be?

Points for answers:

Taking a generous approach to answers to number 4:

Andrei got four right.

J Bloggs, Paranormal and Ray all win an electronic batch of shortbread for five right.

PDM gets a welcome back and three.

Gravedodger got four.

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Consumer stress drops to 2-yr low

May 2, 2014

Consumer stress in New Zealand has fallen to its lowest level since the beginning of 2012 as the economy’s ongoing expansion continues to boost New Zealanders’ financial position and strengthen their capacity to borrow and spend.

Despite interest rates rising, Dun & Bradstreet’s Consumer Financial Stress Index has found that stress levels improved during the first quarter of the year to reach -5.6 points in March, down from 7.5 points a year earlier. An index reading below zero indicates that lower financial stress exists among consumers.

Increasingly healthy economic conditions in New Zealand have seen the stress index, which reflects consumer credit activity, demand, capacity and confidence, fall ahead of its mid-year forecast, suggesting that Kiwis will continue to see their financial position strengthen throughout 2014.

Last year’s breakout economic performance in New Zealand saw the Consumer Financial Stress Index fall from 13.9 points to zero across the year. According to D&B’s country analysis, this performance will continue through 2014, with real GDP growth in New Zealand forecast to lift to 3.4 per cent on the back of strong trade, bustling business confidence, population growth and consumer spending.

While further interest rate increases have the potential to temper consumers’ willingness to borrow and spend on credit, D&B expects the economy’s underlying momentum and a healthy jobs market to drive a further reduction in financial stress levels.

“With good news on the economy continuing to circulate during the first quarter of the year we’re seeing consumer optimism consolidate and financial stress ease,“ said Dennis Martin, Managing Director of Dun & Bradstreet New Zealand.

“Falling unemployment and confidence in jobs growth are supporting consumers’ willingness and ability to spend, while the booming property and share markets are lifting household wealth.

Improvements in unemployment have been lagging behind other positive indicators but that is beginning to change.

“While consumers appear set to face additional interest rate increases this year, which will place some strain on their debt repayments, we forecast that stress levels will continue to ease through to the middle of this year,” Mr Martin added. 

Fundamental to the positive trend in consumer stress has been the falling unemployment rate, which has declined for consecutive quarters, most recently reaching six per cent in Q4 2013.  Job security and employment opportunities are essential to financial comfort and confidence, and have been evident in D&B’s analysis of stress levels. . .

New Zealand’s Financial Stress Index is more than 20 points lower than Australia’s

 “Consumers are in an increasingly sound position, which reflects the solid and now sustained lift in economic activity over the past year and the sharp fall in the unemployment rate,” said Stephen Koukoulas, Economic Advisor to Dun & Bradstreet. “The strength in the New Zealand economy is apparent in the fact that consumers are spending and borrowing with confidence,”

Mr Koukoulas added.“While the present situation is strong, the start of the interest rate hiking cycle from the RBNZ may pose some challenges over the more medium term as borrowing costs increase, although the risk of a severe deterioration in consumer financial stress remains low,” Mr Koukoulas added.

This is very good news.

Confidence breeds confidence, creating a virtuous cycle.


									

Good news but

May 2, 2014

New Zealand wine exports have hit a new high:

New Zealand wine export earnings have hit a new high, bubbling over the $1.3 billion mark for the first time.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive officer Philip Gregan, said it’s due to a combination of increased supply from the 2013 vintage and the continuing strong demand in overseas markets.

“So bring the two things together and we’ve got 9 percent growth in value over the past year.” . . .

That’s the good news.

But there’s another side to the story – there’s still a lot of wine to be sold.

We toured a wine bottling plant last month and saw pallets of boxes full of clean-skin wine bottles which didn’t have a market.

This wasn’t wine maturing, it was wine unsold from last season’s bottling.

New Zealand’s wine production has expanded but it hasn’t all found a market and the plant was already getting this season’s wine in.

Drink up – moderately and sensibly – the country’s wine industry needs us to.


Blame the media

May 2, 2014

Trans-Tasman opines:

You can’t say anything critical about the Labour Party at the moment it seems, without being accused of bias. The party’s activists, both at MP and grassroots/social media level, have become extraordinarily chippy and defensive of late. The one big policy initiative this week, the compulsory savings and monetary policy announcement, was accompanied, in finance spokesman David Parker’s speech, by an extraordinary amount of defensive rhetoric about how much the party is being mis-represented.

It is not just the usual politican’s slag-the-media, get-your-retaliation-in-first tactic. There is a genuine and rising tide of bile among Labour folk towards what they feel is a biased and pro-National political media.

Labour keeps doing stupid things, not to report that would be bias.

Bias comes in many forms though: in media matters, the most important is narrative and confirmation bias rather than ideological. If you go back a decade, the narrative bias was Labour’s Helen Clark was all-competent, all-effective, while National had trouble finding its own backside with both hands. If an expectation has been created of a certain type of behaviour, journalists will go looking for it. As a matter of substance, Labour leader David Cunliffe’s bogus claim of a grandfather with a Military Medal is pretty trivial. Most of us have family oral histories with an element of embroidery about them. But against a background of playing too cute with the facts it was asking for trouble.

The medal claim wouldn’t have been perceived so negatively, and covered so widely, had Cunliffe not already had a reputation for gilding the lily.

Most of us are not political leaders, and most of us are not putting such matters of family history into speeches aimed at garnering political support. The only way to counter this bias is to stop doing things which feed it. . .

That doesn’t mean letting media training turn you into an automaton:

 

 


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