So close but so far away for TPP

11/11/2017

Yesterday’s excitement over agreement on the TPP 11 was premature.

It was so close but now it’s far away again, but it’s not dead.

Canada says Prime Minister  Justin Trudeau’s no-show at a leaders’ meeting was due to a misunderstanding over schedules.

And CBC News says partners have reached agreement on core elements of the deal.

All deals require giving and taking. None are perfect.

But New Zealand has more to gain than lose from tariff-free access to markets which currently disadvantage our exporters.

Consumers in other countries will gain too. If Canadians only knew how much better our cheese is than the orange plastic apology for it I saw in their supermarkets, they’d be demanding their government signs the deal.


Market will find whey

20/08/2015

Russian police have caught a band of cheese smugglers:

Russian police say they have broken up an international cheese smuggling ring that earned up to £20 million supplying banned western dairy products, in the latest twist in the country’s war-on-drugs style campaign against embargoed foreign food.

Russia banned a range of food products including cheese from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Australia in 2014, in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Russia following the annexation of Crimea.

In a joint raid involving at least four law enforcement agencies, officers found 470 tons of banned western rennet, a substance containing enzymes used for cheese production, along with forged labels from major cheese producers, the country’s Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The “international criminal group,” which had been supplying illicit cheeses to shops in Moscow and St Petersburg, had earned two billion roubles (about £20 million) since launching their operation earlier this year, police said. . . 

Where there’s will for cheese which the government won’t allow, the market will find the whey, or the rennet or whatever else it needs.

 


Why not more cheese than cracker?

24/05/2015

An Air New Zealand passenger is cheesed off at getting more cheese than he considers the two crackers accompanying it can handle:

Air New Zealand is facing a grilling over concerns it has miscalculated the ratio of cheese-to-cracker for one of its inflight snack options.

The unsavoury revelation was brought to the attention of the airline by disgruntled customer Jeremy Chaston, who posted his complaint to Facebook on Thursday night.

“Your cheese to cracker ratio is completely out of whack,” he wrote, accompanied by a photo showing two crackers dwarfed by their respective cheese slices.

“I mean I like cheese, I REALLY like cheese but often the best part of the cheese is having it accompanied by a firm and crisp cracker.

“I feel that there is sufficient cheese to justify at least four crackers!!” . . .

I beg to differ. the best part of the cheese and crackers is the cheese so why not have more cheese than cracker?

I’ve been on several Koru hour flights recently when the cheese is served and I’ve noticed that there’s a generous serving of cheese – two chunks – which could be considered to swamp the two crackers allotted with it.

But as cheese is what pleases and the crackers are only there to carry it, I don’t consider there’s any miscalculation in the cheese to cracker ratio.

A cheesemaker told me that cheese is best served with oat crackers or bread, not water biscuits or other types of crackers.

Gourmands  might not agree but I’m also partial to cheese as a topping for apple, pear and fruit cake.

But whatever accompanies it, I’m never concerned if there’s more cheese than whatever it’s topping.

In fact more than not worrying me it reminds me of Pooh Bear who when asked if he wanted a honey or condensed milk sandwich replied both, then so as not to appear greedy said don’t worry about the bread.

In the spirit of Pooh I think Air New Zealand has got it right – pleny of cheese and just enough cracker so as not to leave passengers feeling greedy.


Rural round-up

06/05/2014

Growing US dairy industry shouldn’t be ignored:

Dairy farmers are being urged not to ignore the growing United States dairy industry as it starts to muscle in on this country’s traditional export markets.

The US is now New Zealand’s second biggest dairy competitor.

David McCall from DairyNZ says large-scale farms with feedlots of up to 30,000 cows makes for a much cheaper operation.

He says that, until recently, most American dairy products were consumed domestically, but that’s now changing.

“They’ve made some changes to set up their dairies and some of their processing factories directly to produce export product, is one thing that they’re doing. And they’re producing the sort of products now that Chinese and other markets are demanding. . .

Forest owners seek safety solutions:

Forest owners and contractors say they aren’t sitting on their hands while an independent review panel carries out its investigation into the high death and injury toll from forestry accidents.

They have responded to strong Council of Trade Union criticism of safety standards by urging the umbrella group to take any evidence backing its concerns to the review panel.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls says the panel will need input from everyone in the forestry sector to come up with practical solutions to improve work safety.

He says steps to reduce the accident rate had started years before the review was launched in March and those are continuing while the review panel and the Coroners Court carry out their investigations. . .

 NZ to join foot & mouth exercise in Nepal:

A New Zealand team of vets and industry representatives will go to Nepal later this year to get first hand experience of dealing with foot and mouth disease.

It’s part of a new agreement between New Zealand and Australia to work together more closely on measures to combat this livestock disease.

Primary industries minister, Nathan Guy said a team of about 10 New Zealanders will be join an Australian foot and mouth training programme in Nepal, which is one of the countries battling the disease.

“It makes sense for us to be working closely with Australia because they know as a pastoral based economy that it would cause a huge amount of damage to the Australian economy if they ever got FMD and the same here in New Zealand. . .

Horticulture now 8% of New Zealand’s exports:

.Horticultural products now account for 8% of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports, according to the latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts.

In the year to 30 June 2013, the horticulture industry generated more than $3.6 billion in export revenue, with the major products being wine ($1.2 billion) and kiwifruit ($934 million). The biggest gains were seen in onion exports, which increased by 47% over 2012 values to a total $90 million, and apple exports, which increased by 40% to $475 million.

Total produce from the horticultural industry was valued at $6.7 billion, including $770 million of domestic spend on New Zealand grown fruit and $1.09 billion on vegetables.

“The success of New Zealand’s horticultural exports has been founded on a keen understanding of market needs and a passion for delivering high quality product that commands a healthy premium,” says Plant & Food Research CEO Peter Landon-Lane. . .

China temporarily bans British cheese imports:

China has temporarily banned imports of British cheese after the country’s food inspectors complained about hygiene standards at an unnamed UK dairy.

The Chinese officials were reportedly dissatisfied with its maintenance and storage, raw milk transport temperatures and air sanitisation.

However, the dairy they visited does not export its produce to China.

UK farming minister George Eustice has called for restrictions to be lifted “as soon as possible”.

“British cheese is the best in the world and produced to the highest safety and quality standards, so it is disappointing that China have put a temporary block on cheese imports,” he said. . .

Farm Environment Trust Assembles Top Panel for National Winner Judging:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust has welcomed two new judges to the panel responsible for choosing the National Winner of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Comprising six people with a broad range of skills and experience, the National Winner judging panel will select the next holder of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy from the ten regional Supreme winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The winner will be announced at a National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The 2014 National Winner judging panel is chaired by Simon Saunders, deputy chair of the NZFE Trust, and includes Jamie Strang, BFEA National Judging Coordinator, Warwick Catto, Head of Research and Environment, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and Paul Lamont, Regional Manager, Rabobank. Newcomers Charmaine O’Shea and Bruce Wills have joined the panel this year. . .

Snow Sports NZ and Cardrona Alpine Resort Sign Partnership Agreement:

Snow Sports New Zealand and Cardrona Alpine Resort Limited have signed a Partnership Agreement which will see Cardrona become the official resort partner of Snow Sports NZ, the naming rights sponsor of the New Zealand Park and Pipe Team and the naming rights sponsor of the NZ Freeski & Snowboard Junior National Championships.

Cardrona Alpine Resort and Snow Sports NZ have a positive long-standing partnership and the national freeski and snowboard team do all of their halfpipe and slopestyle training at the resort throughout the southern hemisphere winter. Cardrona also hosts key events such as the NZ Freeski Open, NZ Winter Games and an international spring training camp after the resort closes to the public.

The purpose of the formal agreement is to recognise the growing importance of the partnership and cement the relationship. A four year term has been agreed, subject to satisfactory annual review, during which time Cardrona will be recognised as the official resort partner of the NZ Park and Pipe Team and the team will be called the Cardrona NZ Park and Pipe Team. . .

Sanford agrees to buy assets of Greenshell NZ, Greenshell Investments from receivers:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, the listed fishing company, agreed to buy the assets of Greenshell NZ Limited and Greenshell Investments from the receivers of the mussel farming and processing group.

No price was disclosed in a statement from Sanford. Chief executive Volker Kuntzsch said the assets “were a strategic fit for Sanford’s aquaculture business as they allow for improved supplies from a wider geography.”

Receivers Brendon Gibson and Grant Graham of KordaMentha were appointed last November by Rabobank after depressed prices for the shellfish over a number of years culminated in a “significant” operating loss in 2012. . .

 


Rural round-up

31/12/2013

Rain threatens Canterbury’s veges:

Ongoing wet weather in Canterbury is preventing bees from pollinating this year’s vegetable crops.

About 100 mm of rain has fallen on Mid Canterbury farms since Christmas, causing problems for those who rely on warm, sunny days at this time of year for bee pollination.

Farmers growing flowering crops like potatoes, carrots, peas and radishes say they are starting to What get desperate for sunshine. . . .

Sniffing out new outlets for lavender oil – Alan Wood:

The owners of a large lavender farm say business is blooming with the latest summer crop and work to open up fresh export markets into China and the United States by February.

Philip Simms and Owen Dexter started the NZLavender business 10 years ago, with the first harvest in 2006.

More recently they have found competition in the bulk oil sector fierce, so there is a renewed focus on branded oils for the retail market, which already includes health shops and chemists in New Zealand.

A small bottle usually sells for between $10 and $12. . .

Dairy plant work up to schedule – David Bruce:

The pace is expected to quicken from the new year on construction of a $214 million dairy plant at Glenavy when installation of processing machinery and plant starts.

Just before Christmas, pieces of the drying plant, which will go into the 47m-high drying tower with its chimney, and boilers started to arrive on site.

While construction ramps down from about 200 staff to a smaller number over Christmas, that was expected to build up to about 300 in the new year, when contractors come on site to fit plant, Babbage construction site manager Murray Gifford said. . .

Introducing – Kora! – Jillaroo Jess:

After months of much anticipation, I’ve finally met my new pup! Her name is Kora, and she is a beautiful Border Collie. She came from a Border Collie stud called Mukkerdowns, which is located near Orange in New South Wales. Kora has so much personality. The more time I spend with her, the more I love her. She is around 5months old, I think, I’m yet to find out her birth date. Over the weekend, I took her for a walk down to the creek, which winds itself through the property. On the way down, we came across a small mob of cattle. Kora looked at them and within seconds was trying to run around behind them, before I called her back. We will start her on sheep or calves, so that she doesn’t get hurt for her first time herding. It is amazing how much the instinct is in these dogs, despite the majority of her brothers and sisters being city dogs. . . .

What your favourite cheese says about you –  Rebecca Orchant:

As you have probably noticed, we take cheese very seriously around here. We have threatened to change our name to HuffPost Cheese, have multiple cheese clubs that meet every week and believe that it may be the route to true happiness. That’s why, when you tell us what your favorite cheese is, we really take it to heart.

You can tell a lot about a person from their favorite cheese. Are they trustworthy? Should you marry them? Would they be good employee? If you need some help deciphering your favorite cheese-lover, we’ve made a list of what your favorite cheese says about you. Oh, and if you’re one of those people who hates cheese, or thinks the best cheese is no cheese, just go read something else. The Huffington Post has a lot to offer you, but this article just isn’t it. . . .


Rural round-up

14/12/2012

Food and beverage stars for NZ to hitch its wagon to – report – sticK:

There’s not that many reports you can sit down and study and go – uumm, interesting.

But Auckland-based Coriolis has done it (again), and their ‘Investors guide to emerging growth opportunities in NZ food and beverage exports’ is, and I don’t say this lightly, quite fascinating.

The company has deliberately taken its methodology and report-back from a (potential) investor’s point of view.

The simple objective was to find the next ‘wine’ – such as that fledgling industry existed 25 years ago.
Over 500 food & beverage items, based on export trade codes, were screened down to 25 candidates for stage II in-depth investigation. . . .

Strong Finish To Spring Selling Season:

Summary

Farm sales increase 9.8 per cent compared to October
Median $/ha price rose 11.9 percent compared to November 2011
After noticeable period of absence first farm buyers active in Waikato and Taranaki
Lifestyle property sales lift 24% compared to November 2011

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 25 more farm sales (+9.8%) for the three months ended November 2012 than for the three months ended October 2012. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months to end of November 2012, compared with 315 farm sales in the three months to November 2011, a decrease of 34 sales (-10.8%). 1,417 farms were sold in the year to November 2012, 23.4% more than were sold in the year to November 2011. . .

Cheese first made at least 7,500 years ago – Maria Cheng:

Little Miss Muffet could have been separating her curds and whey 7,500 years ago, according to a new study that finds the earliest solid evidence of cheese-making.

Scientists performed a chemical analysis on fragments from 34 pottery sieves discovered in Poland to determine their purpose. Until now, experts weren’t sure whether such sieves were used to make cheese, beer or honey.

Though there is no definitive test for cheese, Richard Evershed at the University of Bristol and colleagues found large amounts of fatty milk residue on the pottery shards compared to cooking or storage pots from the same sites. That suggests the sieves were specifically used to separate fat-rich curds from liquid whey in soured milk in a crude cheese-making process. . .

Debt is good under some circumstances – Allan Barber:

After my column last week about meat industry debt levels, Keith Cooper, CEO of Silver Fern Farms, took me to task for incorrectly reporting the situation with Silver Fern Farms’ debt facility.

I stated that these expired in September 2012 and therefore the company was operating on a temporary extension. The correct position was that the debt facility was originally negotiated for two years from September 2010 and consequently due to expire in September 2012. This remained the position at balance date in September 2011. However in the 2012 annual report, the facility was stated as expiring on 31 December 2012. . . .

Farmgate raw milk sales to continue:

Farm gate sales of raw milk will continue and the amount that can be purchased is likely to increase, Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson said today.

Farmers will also be exempt from the current requirement to have a costly Risk Management Programme for farm gate sales of raw milk and will instead need to adhere to certain animal health and hygiene requirements.

“The current Food Act allows people to buy only up to five litres of raw milk at the farm gate to drink themselves or give to their family,” Ms Wilkinson says.

Consultation carried out by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on possible changes to rules for raw drinking milk sales attracted nearly 1700 submissions. . .

ANZCO embarks on group-wide energy management programme:

One of New Zealand’s largest exporters is set to save more than $2 million a year and enhance its global reputation as a sustainable producer through a company-wide energy management programme.

EECA Business today announced it would support the initiative over two years to help ANZCO generate long-term energy savings in its New Zealand plants.

With annual sales of NZ $1.25 billion, ANZCO Foods Ltd processes and markets New Zealand beef and lamb products around the world. The firm employs over 3,000 staff world-wide and has 11 meat processing plants in New Zealand. . .

Feedback sought about regulation of dairy herd improvement

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is looking for feedback on the rules surrounding the New Zealand dairy herd improvement industry.

The New Zealand dairy industry has been a world leader in herd improvement, and its ability to trace the performance of the national herd – through the dairy core database – has been central to that success.

Studies have shown that genetic gains through dairy herd improvement have accounted for about two thirds of the sector’s productivity over the last decade. . . .


Do customers really want to buy local?

17/10/2012

Coles supermarkets have upset customers by dropping the Mainland cheese brand from its supermarkets in favour of Australian products.

Two months after withdrawing Mainland from its cheese lineup in August, Coles has been forced to explain the move following customer complaints, which continue on the company’s website. Coles said the decision was part of commitment to Australian-made products. It aims to stock 90 percent locally made groceries.

“In a recent review, we set to ensure the vast majority of our cheese range is Australian-made and as a cheese manufactured in New Zealand, Mainland was one of the brands we replaced with an Australian-made option,” Melbourne-based Coles said on its website. “Coles Brand cheese is also now 100 percent Australian following a new contract with Bega.” . . .

The supermarket wants to stock 90% locally made groceries but at least some of its customers are less concerned about where their cheese comes from, they want Mainland.

Feedback on the Coles website suggests Australian customers sympathise with the sentiment, but not the decision.

An indicative comment, from a customer named Valerie, said: “I prefer buying local produce where possible, but Mainland is a superior product. We’ve always shopped at Coles in the past but will now have to go to Woolies to get a decent cheese.”

Buy local is a marketing ploy but where something is produced is only one factor customers consider. The quality of a product can be more important than its country of origin. Price will also be a consideration.

Fonterra isn’t concerned about Coles’ action.

Bega was licensed to Fonterra in 2001 and other supermarket chains are still stocking Mainland products.


Look at retailers not producers

03/08/2011

Federated Farmers and Fonterra are both pleased that the Commerce Commission has decided it has no basis for a price control inquiry into milk.

However, it’s not ruling out a further inquiry  into how Fonterra sets the price it pays farmers and what it charges other processors.

Sue Chetwin from Consumer is calling for a milk commissioner and  Labour and Green MPs want the Commerce select committee to launch another inquiry.

If they’re doing that, should look at the whole supply chain.

The Commerce Commission report said there was enough retail competition between  two major supermarket chains, dairies, service stations and other retailers.

I’m not so sure about that. Almost everything is more expensive at dairies, service stations and other small retailers. Those are the places you go for emergency supplies, not normal grocery shopping.

That leaves the supermarket duopoly.

It is difficult comparing prices here with those overseas because of the exchange rate and different taxes, but our observation at restaurants and supermarket during our recent trip to the USA and Canada was that food there seemed to be cheaper than it is here.

Some prices in a Walmart in Canada were: beef mince $9.50/kg; T bone $16.22; sirloin $11.10; stir fry $15.06; roast beef $12.06; bacon $10.44; pork tenderloin $10.96; pork chops $8.80.

I don’t have local comparison for these, but a  New Zealand boneless leg  lamb was selling for $14.92/kg  at Walmart, I saw it priced at $29.99/kg at a New World  here yesterday.

A frozen leg of New Zealand lamb was $13.62/kg.

It looked good but beside it were Walmart’s own brand of frozen loin chops selling for $20/kg. The bag was full of ice and had they been a tenth the price we might have contemplated buying them for dog meat.

Eggs were $2.98/dozen; skim milk cost $1.38/litre, full cream milk was $2.77/litre..

Cheddar cheese cost $13.43/kg which, taking the exchange rate into account, wouldn’t be much different form here.

The only thing that was far more expensive – and to our admittedly biased taste buds, not nearly as nice – was ice cream. A small cone cost $5.

Prices recorded at one supermarket and the gut reaction from purchases at other supermarkets and restaurants aren’t much to build a case on.

But our overwhelming impression was that food was cheaper and we wondered how much that had to do with greater competition between supermarkets there in contrast to the duopoly which operates here.

If there’s to be an investigation into food prices it needs to be a thorough one which includes retailers not just producers and processors.


Fonterra’s farmgate price formula sound

23/07/2011

Competition in domestic dairy production has increased since Fonterra was formed and the way it sets its farmgate milk pirce is sound.

This was the finding of internationally renowned competition expert, Compass Lexecon, which has been ranked as one of the leading antitrust economics firms in the world by Global Competition Review for the past seven years.

Fonterra commissioned Compass Lexecon to provide an economic evaluation of the competitive environment for dairy processing and to also review the methodology for calculating the milk price paid to Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders.

The report found that:

  • There had been a growth in competition in the New Zealand dairy industry under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.
  • There has been a significant investment in expanded dairy processing capacity in New Zealand by competitors as well as Fonterra since Fonterra was formed. This investment in new more efficient plant was driving down manufacturing costs.
  • The way Fonterra calculates its milk price – based on global prices for commodities, less the costs of a notional competitor – was correct.
  • Domestic dairy prices in New Zealand have increased less than global prices for dairy product, largely because of the growth of supermarket home brands sold at a discount. (Around 70 per cent of domestic fresh milk sales in New Zealand are now home brands.)

Compass Lexecon endorsed the fact that the Fonterra milk price was based on the costs of a notional competitor using efficient processing facilities, rather than Fonterra’s actual manufacturing costs. It noted that there had been considerable expansion of dairy processing in New Zealand, with more efficient plant commissioned by both Fonterra and competitors: “Even if Fonterra (and other processors) … have higher average variable costs of processing, the farm gate milk price will be bid up by competitors utilising efficient plants,” the report concluded.

“The history of actual expansion by both Fonterra and independent processors … indicates a strong belief by both Fonterra and competitors that they can secure a supply of raw milk at a price that allows them to operate profitably.”

Fonterra Group Chief Financial Officer, Jonathan Mason, said the Compass Lexecon report essentially concluded that the New Zealand environment was fostering competition in the dairy sector and that the way Fonterra set its milk price was fair.

“The Milk Price reflects international dairy commodity prices, less the costs to produce and export those commodities. . . “

This should allay fears that Fonterra is using its dominent position in setting prices which disadvantage its competitors and consumers.

The company has announced that it will be reducing the domestic price of butter and cheese in response to falls in international prices.


Steam going out of milk price

20/07/2011

The trade weighted price dropped 5.1% at this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

Prices were: Whole milk powder down 4% to $3,475/MT;  skim milk powder down  5.2% to $3,488/MT; anhydrous milk fat down  12.5% to $4,614/MT;  butter milk powder up 0.3% to $3345; rennet casein down 1.4% to $9,992/MT; milk protein concentrate down 10.2% to $5,525/MT.

Cheese which sold on this platform for the first time went for $4,315/MT.

This is the third auction in a row in which the TWI has dropped suggesting the steam is going out of dairy prices. Prices are now at a similar level to this time last year and still above the long term average.

In a newsletter to shareholders Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden says the company has signed an agreement with the government of Yutian County to develop 3rd China farm.

This is expected to increase Fonterra’s production in there to around 90 million litres. They’re on track to start milking on a 3,200 cow farm in November.

The next step in the company’s strategy is to build high-quality fresh milk supply for Chinese customers.


British dairy co-op in receivership

05/06/2009

Dairy Farmers of Britain is in receivership.

Milk quota broker agent Ian Potter said farmer suppliers faced losing an estimated £14,000 each in unpaid milk on top of an average farmer investment of £25,000 which has already been lost.

“It will undoubtedly be quoted in future and may well deter others from setting up co-operative ventures. But at least DFOB has now been taken to the vets and put out of its misery.”

The co-0perative was established in 2002 , has around 1800 farmer members who supply more than 1 billion litres of milk – about 10% of British milk production. It employs more than 2000 people.

Dairying in Britain is not in a healthy state. Production and cow numbers have fallen prompting farming leaders to urge retailers to pay a fair price for milk.

Organisations including the NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and the FUW have written to retailers and food service industry to call for action to secure Britain’s milk supplies.

In the letter, the organisations said retailers, discounters and the food industry need to help increase confidence among dairy farmers to stop them leaving the sector.

Everyone in the milk supply chain needs to make a fair profit and retailers needed to stop gambling with the security of milk supplies, it said.

“Our message is very simple. If you want to guarantee a supply of quality British milk, cheese and dairy products you must take steps to secure it,” it added.

New Zealand producers may be concerned that the industry-wide group asked retailers and food service companies to commit to sourcing British dairy products because that will be direct competition for our milk and cheese.

Anyone who thinks promoting Kiwi-made is still a good idea should take note of this because if we urge domestic consumers to buy local, we can’t argue when overseas competitors urge their domestic consumers to buy local too.

Anti-Dismal posts on Canadian concerns about the impact the USA Buy-American campaign will have on them.

Protectionism by any other name still stinks.


We’re the rock stars Johnny Rotten

19/05/2009

Federated Farmers reckon New Zealand farmers are economic rock stars and  want to invite Johnny Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten)  to visit so they can show him just how good dairy produce is when it comes from free range cows.

This invitation has been mooted because the former member of the Sex Pistols has been fronting advertisements In Britain urging people to buy British butter because  – he says – it’s better.

“Never mind the butter, it’s the quality of the milk what counts,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“While all milk may contain the same basic properties, kiwi cows are in a league of their own.

“Grazing outdoors on GM free grass and natural winter feed makes for happy cows and fantastic quality milk.  This milk is crafted into quality butter and other dairy products and the only thing holding us back in the UK, is the European Union’s ridiculous tariff barriers.  

“One of our senior staff members, David Broome, lived in the UK for seven years.  He tried Country Life Butter, once, and described it to me in colourful terms that Johnny Rotten would understand.

“David said only hand crafted but expensive British butter matched New Zealand butter for quality. The difference being that New Zealand butter can readily be found by British consumers in their local supermarket and convenience stores.

“New Zealand butter and dairy products, like our wine, is a taste revelation.

“New Zealand’s climate and quality pasture means we are in an agricultural sweet spot.  British consumers literally taste freedom when they eat New Zealand butter.

“While I’d like to think of dairy farmers as being the rock stars of the New Zealand economy, I’d be pleased to host that old punk rocker, John Lyndon, on my farm.

While he’s not casting aspersions on our butter, jokes aside, all primary producers need to be very careful about what we say about produce from other countries.

We may compete in the market but we should be allies in the battle against unscientific claims on production methods and quality. There’s more than enough unfounded claims based on emotion making life difficult for farmers and manufacturers of primary produce without people in the industry adding to it.

Attempts to woo consumers by putting them off competitors’ products might backfire and put them off those products regardless of where they come from.

There is one good thing about the ad, though. It might show anyone who still thinks a Buy Kiwi-Made campaign is a good the idea that it’s not, because we can’t say it’s better for us to buy local while exhorting people elsewhere to buy our exports.


Made from NZ and imported ingredients

29/04/2009

Supermarket brands are usually cheaper than other branded products although sometimes they’re of equal quality and may even be the same thing in a different package.

But they’re not always as good and variable quality is one of the reasons I treat them with caution.

Another things which makes me cautious the difficulty in working out where they come from because they usually say packaged for, produced for or marketed by  X but don’t say where they or their ingredients come from.

Although, sometimes if they have other information it’s not much help anyway.

Such was the case with a block of Pams’ cheese I looked at yesterday which was made from New Zealand and imported ingredients.

If I support free access for our products in overseas markets I can’t complain about other countries sending their produce here.

But there aren’t many ingredients in a block of edam cheese – milk, salt, cultures and rennet – and I’d like to know which of those were imported and where they came from.


Sure as eggs it’s good news for chook farmers – Updated

12/02/2009

 Brtitish researchers have good news  for poultry farmers:

A paper to be published soon in the British Nutrition Foundation’s Nutrition Bulletin has found that cholesterol in eggs has only a small and clinically insignificant effect on blood cholesterol. While people with high blood cholesterol are at increased risk of heart disease, only a third of the cholesterol in the body is attributed to diet.

 

Other factors linked to high cholesterol levels are smoking, being overweight and lack of exercise, and the main culprit from food is saturated fat, not cholesterol found in eggs.

. . .  The study concludes that health chiefs and GPs should demolish the myths about eggs and heart disease and communicate a message that there is no need to limit the number eaten as long as they are part of a healthy low saturated fat diet.

A pity that rules out mixing them with cream and cheese in a quiche to help the dairy industry too.

UPDATE: Macdoctor has an eggcellent post  on this, I especially like his rules of data interpretation.


Meat up veg down

17/11/2008

There was a very small decrease in food prices  in October, the first time there hadn’t been a monthly increase in more than a year.

food-1

Food prices overall decreased by 0.3% last month.

Fruit and vegetables decreased by 6% helped by a 50.7% drop in the price of lettuce and a 24.9% fall in the price of tomatoes. However, these were offset by a 20.6% increase in the price of potatoes.

Vegetarians were better off than meat eaters because, the price of meat poultry and fish increased by 2.4%. Beef prices rose 5.4% and prepared meat and smallgoods icnreased by 6%.

The lower price of international dairy products filtered through tot he supermarket with a 4% decrease int he price of cheese. However, bread was 3.2% more expensive and grocery food as a whole increased by .6%.

Food prices increased 9.9% in the year to October.

food-2 
Grocery prices increased 11.9% , meat, poultry and fish prices rose 11.0%, fruit and vegetable went up 12.5%, restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food increased 6.4%, and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 4.7%.

Within these subgroups the price of chedder cheese went up 39.2% and potatoes increased in price by 41.7%.

These figures explain why gardening shops report increased sales of vegetable seeds and plants, although from my experience of vegetable gardening – which is admitedly haphazard – growing your own isn’t necessarily cheaper.

Home grown vegetables definitely taste better and it’s lovely to be able to pop outside and pick a good part of a meal.

But by the time I take account the cost of seeds and plants, tools bought then replaced because they go out on the farm never to be seen again, hoses and sprinklers which do the same thing, the fence to keep the rabbits out and the failures I’m not sure that I’m saving any money.


White gold loses lustre

27/10/2008

Dairy prices last season were at record highs, well above the long term average so a drop isn’ t unexpected.

However, it is concerning that international prices for butter, chedder, skim and whole milk are heading back to 2006 levels.

Cicero  found these charts from agridata.co.nz which show the drops in international dairy prices:

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The fall in the value of the dollar will compensate for some of the fall in prices, but that’s a two edge sword because a lower dollar increases the prices of two of the biggest budget items – fuel and fertiliser.

The other concern for farmers is that while income will drop the costs of production never go down as far or as fast as product prices.

There is also a wider concern for the New Zealand economy. Dairy produce accounts for around quarter of our exports so a significant drop in returns for butter, milk and cheese has a significant impact on the national income and balance of payments.


Not all cheeses are equal

22/10/2008

Yesterday’s announcement on the Food Price Index showed the price of chedder had gone up 61.6%  in the year to September but the increase in the price of milk was, by comparison, a modest 12.6%.

I was puzzled by that difference and have found there’s more to the story  – the price of chedder has gone up much more than that for gourmet cheeses:

The 1kg block of mild cheddar cheese tracked for the FPI rose by 59.3 percent in the year to July 2008, while the 125g round of camembert had a flatter rise of 10.6 percent. Increases for cottage cheese (21.5 percent) and processed cheese slices (24.7 percent) were between those recorded for cheddar and camembert.

Andrew Smith, general manager of marketing at Fonterra Brands, said that the main production input costs vary for different types of cheese. He said the prices of block cheese – such as cheddars and processed cheese – are linked to international commodity prices. The significant price increase for mild cheddar over the past year is a result of the unprecedented rise in global dairy commodities. In contrast, gourmet or specialty cheeses, such as camembert, are linked to the price of domestic ‘white milk’, which has also increased but at a more modest rate than has occurred on the commodities market.

Fresh milk prices in the FPI increased by 10.2 percent in the year to July 2008, broadly in line with the 10.6 percent increase for camembert.

I’m still puzzled because I thought all milk was white; and the price farmers  get for their milk is related to international commodity prices whether or not it’s sold for export or town supply.

There is a small subsidy for the local market but that still doesn’t explain the big difference in the price of milk and cheese.

(The difference in figures quoted is because the first ones for the FPI are for the year to September and the second ones for the cheese story are for the year to July).


Buy bigger block for Christmas

03/10/2008

Fonterra will lower the price of dairy products on the domestic market by Christmas because of falling international prices.

If the bigger block of chedder doesn’t seem quite right for a present and you want to go up market there’s always Whitestone Cheese’s  gift boxes or their tins of Windsor Blue.


Power pushes up producers’ prices

19/08/2008

The price of power was the main contributer to the increase in the Producers’ Price Index  in the three months to June, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Ouptput prices went up 3.5% and input prices rose by 5.6%.

The rise in the outputs index is the largest quarterly rise since the June 1985 quarter, while the rise in the inputs index is the largest since the March 1980 quarter. Both indexes were mainly driven by higher prices for electricity generation and supply.

One business’s output becomes another’s input, so for example milk and grain are outputs for farmers but inputs for cheese makers and bakers.The electricity generation and supply outputs index rose 30.9 percent in the latest quarter, the largest rise since the series began. Higher output prices for electricity generation were recorded, with lower lake levels pushing up spot prices. In the year to the June 2008 quarter, the electricity generation and supply index rose 41.7 percent, which is also the largest annual rise since the series began.

 

Electricity producers cover those inolved in generation, transmission, distribution and retail and their inputs include fuel, business services, rent and power itself. I’m not sure how much the healthy dividends the Government gets from the power companies it owns contributes to the price rises.

Within the inputs index, electricity generation and supply rose 50.8 percent in the latest quarter and 85.4 percent in the year to the June 2008 quarter. Both movements are the largest since the series began in the June 1994 quarter. Lower lake levels were the cause of higher costs for electricity generation this quarter.

Ouch. We pump water for irrigation which makes power one of our bigger costs.

Another contributer to the PPI indexes is the wholesale trade which covers fuel and fertiliser and they are also big budget items for farmers.

Wholesale trade also made a contribution to both the PPI output and input indexes. The wholesale trade outputs index rose 6.0 percent in the June 2008 quarter, while the inputs index rose 6.4 percent. In both cases the increase was driven by higher prices in the mineral, metal and chemical wholesaling sector.In the year to the June 2008 quarter, the PPI outputs index rose 8.5 percent and the inputs index rose 11.8 percent.

 

If these input costs, most of which have a large imported component, went up when our dollar was relatively high they will almost certainly be higher in the next quarter because the dollar has been lower.

The increase in inputs has been greater than that for outputs which means we’re absorbing some of the costs. But even so each trip to the supermarket is a reminder that some of the increases get passed on to consumers.

I couldn’t find any 1kg blocks of cheese at the supermarket today, and the 700g block of edam I did find cost $11.99. I wonder if this is because there would be consumer resistance if they tried to sell bigger blocks at that per kilo price?


June quarter trade deficit up

28/07/2008

The seasonally adjusted trade deficit  increased to $1.9 billion for the three months to June, up from $861 million in the March quarter.

Statistics NZ says this is similar to the deficit in the June quarter last year.

Major contributers to the deficit were siginificant increase in imports of one-off capital goods (particularly oil-related) and petroleum and products, combined with a large seasonally adjusted drop in dairy exports.

The seasonally adjusted value of merchandise imports rose 8.5 percent in the June 2008 quarter (to $12.1 billion) following a flat March quarter. One-off capital imports (an oil platform, oil production vessel, and two large aircraft) were the largest contributors to this increase, added to by the highest ever quarterly value of petroleum and products imports.

The seasonally adjusted value of merchandise exports was down 0.5 percent in the June 2008 quarter (to $10.3 billion) following a 2.4 percent decrease in the March quarter. Although lower, June 2008 still has the third highest quarterly exports value on record. The latest small decrease in total exports comes despite increases in most commodity groups and is primarily the result of a large drop in dairy product exports, following on from the recent drought. Crude oil showed the most significant increase, up 56.6 percent (largely due to price rises).

In the month of June 2008, merchandise imports were valued at $3.8 billion, the highest value for a June month, up 16.9 percent from June 2007. This increase was led by crude oil with the price of crude up substantially since June 2007.

Merchandise exports were valued at $3.6 billion in June 2008, up 30.9 percent from June 2007. This is the largest percentage increase from the same month of the previous year since January 2001. The increase in exports was dominated by crude oil and milk powder, butter and cheese.  


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