Rural round-up

28/12/2020

Some Motueka fruit growers lose entire crop in hail storm – Jean Bell:

A Motueka fruit growers association says the millions of dollars worth of fruit that is ruined following a devastating hail storm that hit the Nelson region yesterday is a bitter pill to swallow.

Richard Clarkson, president of the Motueka Fruit Growers Association, said some growers, depending on where they are based, had lost their entire crop due to the storm.

He said the storm had wiped out so much fruit that the labour shortage crisis was somewhat averted.

“There’s orchards out there that are going to be in that 80 to 100 percent loss of crop, which is huge in terms of income,” Clarkson said. . .

Sustainability is top issue – Peter Burke:

NZ’s primary sector’s strong commitment to sustainability holds the key to the country obtaining a quality, comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union.

Negotiations on an FTA have been going on for the past three years and it’s hoped a deal can be agreed within the next couple of years at the latest.

Government and industry sources have told Rural News that the European parliament, which has to ratify any FTA, will place strong emphasis on NZ’s commitment to sustainability. The message being put out to the farming community by officials is that they need to get real about sustainability and that anything less than a full commitment could put an agreement at risk. . .

Synlait Milk almost halves profit forecast:

Specialty dairy producer Synlait Milk has almost halved its profit forecast after its key customer downgraded its earnings outlook because of lower sales.

Synlait is a major supplier of infant formula to A2 Milk, which on Friday said disruption in the daigou sales channel, involving purchases in Australia and New Zealand on behalf of consumers in China, had been more significant than expected.

A2 said it expected full-year revenue between $1.4-$1.55 billion, down from guidance of $1.8-$1.9b given at the annual meeting last month, sending its shares 21 percent lower.

Synlait said it now expected sales volumes of infant formula to fall by 35 percent as a result of A2 Milk’s lower sales. . . 

Agcarm appoints new animal health expert:

The industry association for crop protection and animal health manufacturers and distributors has appointed Jeff Howe as its technical manager.

Jeff Howe replaces Jan Quay, after a seventeen-year tenure, as Agcarm’s animal health expert. As well as taking the lead on animal health issues, Jeff provides technical support on the company’s crop protection and rural supplier portfolios.

“Getting better outcomes for farmers, animals, and consumers of food and fibre is a key driver for me. I am excited about the possibilities for new technologies to increase productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimise residues, and help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. . . 

Central’s lost cloak – Anna Yeoman:

Central Otago wasn’t always a golden grassland, discovers Anna Yeoman.

I start up the track on a bright Central Otago morning, as a light breeze sets the grass heads bobbing among the thyme. A small bird trills and chirps nearby, while a harrier hawk turns lazy circles over the hillside. With the golden brown hills stretching out in gentle folds under a wide blue sky, it’s a classic Central Otago scene. Classic, but as I’m coming to learn, far from the true Central Otago.

Over the brow of Flat Top Hill, where the thyme-covered land drops steeply towards the turquoise water of the Clutha Mata-au River, I find what I came here to see. Standing out in the barren brown hills is a shock of luminous green, the glowing foliage of a single kowhai tree.

Dhana Pillai, eco-nursery manager for the Haehaeata Natural Heritage Trust, is familiar with trees like this one. “You see them in strange places, often on their own, sometimes just a very stunted little thing, struggling on,” she says. “And you know those trees were once part of a forest, and we’ve lost all the rest of that forest.” . . 

Consumers associate plant-based with clean label: There is a ‘disconnect’ between perception and reality – Katy Askew:

Demand for plant-based products is booming and many consumers identify the sector as being ‘natural’, ‘healthy’ and ‘artisan’, new research reveals. “There is an apparent disconnect between the consumer understanding of natural products and the reality of the synthetic ingredients that are used to make many plant-based products.”

Demand for plant based products is rising fast. In the UK for instance, sales data from Kantar covering the lockdown period show meat alternatives are up 25% and free-from milks are up 28% year on year. A survey from the Vegan Society found 21% of people report cutting meat consumption during the coronavirus lockdown.

Concerns over animal welfare and a perceived ‘health halo’ are two of the drivers behind the plant-based movement. But plant-based is colliding with another food sector mega-trend: clean label. . .  


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