Keytone Dairy launches Prospectus to raise $15m & list on ASX

Keytone Dairy, an Australian wholly-own subsidiary of Keytone Enterprises (NZ) Company Ltd, has lodged its Prospectus with ASIC in order to raise up to $15 million and list on the Australian Securities Exchange via IPO.

The Company is aiming to raise $12 million (up to $15 million with oversubscriptions) in connection with the IPO to facilitate a listing on the ASX through the issue of 60 million (up to 75 million with oversubscriptions) shares at an issue price of $0.20 per share, with the offer due to close on 1 June 2018. The Company has reserved discretion to close the IPO early. Peloton Capital is the Lead Manager of the IPO. Once listed, the Company will have a market capitalisation of $30 million (based on the IPO issue price of $0.20 per share and after the maximum subscription of $15 million being raised).

Keytone Dairy is a New Zealand-based manufacturer, packer and exporter of dairy and nutrition blended products, with a current focus on powdered dairy products. Since 2014, Keytone Dairy has been using its proprietary manufacturing facility in Christchurch, New Zealand, and has commercialised whole and skim milk powder as well as other dairy powder blends under its proprietary brands. Keytone Dairy also contract-packs a range of powdered dairy products for major supermarkets, retail chains, dairy producers and other customers, in New Zealand and China, under their private label brands.

Keytone Dairy holds the coveted China Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) license, a pre-requisite for importation of dairy products into the People’s Republic of China. It is also Halal-certified, enabling exports into Muslim countries.

“China’s per capital dairy consumption is less than one third of the global average but rapidly growing. Keytone has been able to capitalise on this rapidly growing market with its clean, green and high quality New Zealand dairy products,” said Bernard Kavanagh, Non-Executive Chairman of Keytone Dairy, and dairy industry veteran.

“We believe that the ASX listing will turbocharge Keytone Dairy’s growth. Keytone Dairy has already purchased land for two new manufacturing facilities it plans to build, in addition to its purpose built existing Christchurch facility.”

Selected examples of private label brands manufactured by Keytone Dairy.
Selected examples of private label brands manufactured by Keytone Dairy.


NZ well positioned to be global player in alternative protein market

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade.

“Among this age group, factors such as concern for animal welfare and the environment were some of the most important drivers of purchase choice; whereas if you look at older consumers, health considerations and cost of meat were the primary reasons for choosing vegetarian foods,” he says.

Roper says New Zealand is well positioned to take advantage of this emerging trend – which has seen accelerated growth in the global meat substitute market.

“Our research is showing that many consumers are not completely replacing meat in their diet – instead, they are integrating more meat-free options throughout the week. This makes development of a plant protein market complementary to our existing agricultural exports,” says Roper.

He says the new consumer driven trend is something that farmers should not fear, but rather capitalise on.

“As a producer we are looking at this growth as a promising future market. As well as a growth industry locally, there is increasing demand for these products in the more well-established markets of the US and Europe where there are potentially large export opportunities for us,” he says.

Roper says at the same time, New Zealand is well positioned as a producer nation to capitalise on millennial’s demand for plant based products.

“As a country, we have a strong agricultural research base, we are great at growing crops here, and the development of a more environmentally friendly, alternative protein market will potentially enhance the ‘pure NZ’ brand equity.

“With demand for meat alternatives expected to grow significantly in the coming years, we are looking at other sources of protein that have similar texture and taste to meat and that can be developed into added value products for the domestic and export markets.

“Plants like pea, soy, mushrooms and even seaweed can be made into products with similar properties to meat and food companies around the world are investing millions of dollars to be at the forefront of this,” he says.

Roper says the local market for vegetarian food is developing quickly with category growth exceeding 20 percent per annum.

He says sales of their recently launched Alternative Meat Co. have exceeded initial volume expectations in this market and they have expanded production to accommodate.

“Currently around 80% of our added value vegetarian products that are sold in NZ are made here. With increased demand locally and globally, greater volumes of ingredients will be required from suppliers to meet this opportunity,” he says.

Kiwi academics develop new food design technique

Two leading academics have developed a new food design technique to help inspire the next generation of culinary designers, and make artistic food presentation more accessible to New Zealand restaurants.

The new technique developed in consultation with EPIC Otago Polytechnic R & D centre and The Food Design Institute at Otago Polytechnic allows chefs to produce large quantities of artistically designed food products by hand on a commercial scale with a small team, and at reduced cost.

Otago Polytechnic’s Timothy Lynch, who and lectures on sustainability in the food industry, says they wanted to present ingredients in a way that was consistent with multisensory food design concepts.

“The process involves working with natural products to design handcrafted foods that look identical to fruit and vegetables but are filled with contrasting flavours.”

“Initially we couldn’t find a way to make these products on a small scale, but a collaboration with the EPIC helped us overcome several barriers, and we were able to develop a method of crafting the lifelike products using food-grade silicon moulds, which we made ourselves,” he says.

Lynch says a project of this scale and complexity would require international assistance and a large team of scientists and food specialists. This would have made the project cost prohibitive by New Zealand industry standards, he says.

“Thanks to the ingenuity of some of our colleagues and the dedication of our staff and students we have managed to find a way to bring these food creations to life,”- says Lynch.

Senior lecturer Tony Heptinstall who has catered for Prince Charles and other royal family members says one of the objectives was to increase current industry capital through being part of an innovative collaboration between the food industry and education.

“We were conscious that in order to inspire the students we needed to take on a challenge that solved a real world problem and used design thinking at the same time,” he says.

“The technique involves making edible fruit and vegetables replicas from vegan white[HS1]  chocolate and So Good milks – ,” says Heptinstall. The hand moulded products are then filled with a variety of contrasting l recipe combinations using a diverse range of readily available ingredients including the nut milks.

“It’s not everyday that you get to have a dhal curry which is encased in tumeric chocolate and presented in a red or green chilli shell or an apple pie smoothie presented in an apple hanging on a tree. We’ve got a series of other quite contrasting flavours all designed to ‘shake up’ what a plant based diet can look like.”

“What we’re doing is not only highlighting the design evolution of the food we are able to create, but also embrace the contemporary movement towards flexitarian and vegetarian diets,” says Heptinstall.

“People are looking at food from not just a taste and health consideration but from a sustainability and environmental perspective,” he says.

Sanitarium’s marketing business manager Hayley Scott who approached the tertiary institution with the technical challenge said the outcome surpassed their expectations.

“We approached the polytechnic to help us come up with a way to show Kiwis how Non Dairy milks can be used creatively in kitchens around the country.

“Throughout their collaboration with their students and colleagues they have completely embraced this challenge and we have been amazed at what they have been able to produce

“We are thrilled to see it inspire students, the food industry and the general public as well,” she says

A proof of concept display has been created in the form of an entirely man made, edible garden where more than 3,000 hand-crafted fruit and vegetables will be made available to the public to sample.

The garden will be open to the public from February 8-9 between 11.30am-2.30pm at Takutai Square, Britomart, Auckland.

Brewers Association of New Zealand appoints new boss

The Brewers Association of New Zealand has appointed of Dylan Firth as its Executive Director, based in Wellington.

Rory Glass, Managing Director of Lion and Chairman of the Brewers Association, says Firth’s skills, strong networks and advocacy experience will deliver considerable value for the New Zealand brewing industry.

“We are delighted to welcome Dylan to the role. He is passionate about the brewing industry and brings significant experience and understanding of the beverage sector,” Glass says.

Firth says he is excited about the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the industry.

“The brewing industry has changed rapidly in the past decade. I’m committed to providing the Brewers Association members and wider industry with strategic support to help it grow and develop into the future,” Firth says.

Firth joins the Brewers Association after four years with Hospitality New Zealand, most recently as Advocacy and Policy Manager.

The Brewers Association of New Zealand was established in October 2017 as a stand-alone entity, having separated from the Australian Brewers Association. Glass said that the change reflects the unique characteristics of the New Zealand operating and regulatory environments.

NZ packaging scholarship launched

The Packaging Council of New Zealand is launching a new annual Scholarship program, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP), that will enable one packaging technologist, designer or engineer in New Zealand the opportunity to complete a Diploma in Packaging Technology to the value of $9,000.

“The association is extremely proud to be able to offer the scholarship to a New Zealand packaging professional each year,” commented Harry Burkhardt, President of the Packaging Council of New Zealand.

“The packaging industry is dynamic and diverse, offering career opportunities across a wide scope of disciplines. PAC.NZ has been representing businesses in the packaging industry in New Zealand since 1992 and recognises that investment in the packaging industry starts with investment in its people. We strongly encourage everyone in the industry to apply for this scholarship.

“The Diploma in Packaging Technology is a Level 5 qualification which is internationally recognised for those wishing to pursue a career in the packaging industry or for those who are already in the industry and who wish to extend their knowledge and expertise. The Diploma in Packaging Technology prepares students to take responsibility for packaging operations at any level through the supply chain. The qualification is comprehensive, and provides an opportunity to study the principles of packaging, packaging materials and packaging processes.”

Diploma in Packaging Technology students come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, and are typically experienced practitioners or managers in technical, sales/marketing, QA, purchasing, engineering or design.

Completion of the Diploma in Packaging Technology demonstrates a commitment to your career and to the industry. Delegates who successfully complete the Diploma are equipping themselves for senior positions within the packaging industry.

Entries are now open with submissions closing on the 23rd of February 2018. The winner of the inaugural Packaging Council of New Zealand Scholarship will be announced at the 2018 Packaging & Processing Innovation & Design Awards; which will be held alongside of the prestigious international WorldStar Packaging Awards on 2 May.

Crowd funding secures Kiwi chocolate factory

In less than two days New Zealanders have opened their wallets and purchased Dunedin-based chocolate company OCHO, championing a new people-led model of regional development.

3570 people from across New Zealand purchased shares to the value of NZ$2,000,000 which will allow the company to expand it production and create new jobs.

This community-driven initiative began as a response to Mondelez announcing it planned to close Dunedin’s Cadbury factory. Initially Jim O’Malley and a team of volunteers aimed to purchase the Cadbury factory to keep confectionery production in the city. However, ‘Own the Factory’ has advanced its strategy to focus on premium chocolate-making, joining forces with independently owned OCHO and in the process developing a model for community business ownership to contribute to regional development.

Campaign leader Jim O’Malley said people had spoken to him about investing in OCHO to ensure Dunedin retained its proud history of chocolate production. They also wanted to enable new jobs in the city.

“We achieved our aim of attracting multiple shareholders and are delighted to have more than 3700 owners,” he said.

He said the offer was different to usual shares as it limited the total any one person could own to 11 per cent so that no single investor could dominate. The constitution also prevents OCHO moving its production outside of Dunedin.

OCHO founder Liz Rowe, who is the General Manager of the new company, says the first task will be ordering new chocolate production equipment from Italy. Once the order is confirmed planning will start on fitting out a new OCHO chocolate factory in Dunedin’s Steamer Basin.

“New equipment and a larger facility will enable us to expand our production from 90kg of chocolate a week to up to a maximum of 200kg a day,” she said.

OCHO’s plan for the first year is to focus on increasing production. Once that has been achieved the company will develop a tourism component with a factory tour and chocolate tastings. The third phase of its strategy is developing export markets.


Raglan Yoghurt lands in Aus

The bestselling coconut yoghurt range in New Zealand produced by Raglan Coconut Yoghurt company has made its way across the ditch and landed in Australia.

Probiotic, dairy-free yoghurt packed with coconut goodness, Raglan Coconut Yoghurt products are sold from the tip of New Zealnd’s North Island to the bottom on the South Island, and everywhere in-between as well as in Singapore and Rarotonga with over 500 stockists.

The coconuts are sourced from Sumatra, Indonesia where they’re grown organically, with no fertilisers, sprays or pesticides used, and sourced from local growers all around the area. With Raglan Coconut Yoghurt’s current annual production, they’re supporting 8,000 coconut trees; which capture over 2,500 tonnes of CO2 every year. The business supports the local community in many ways, and they’ve recently become Raglan’s first certified Living Wage employer.

The co-founders are passionate about helping not only their community but also the world with various projects. They have sponsored 14 bee-hives for families, planted over 2,000 trees along polluted streams, raised funds for the homeless in a CEO sleep out and have a goal to pick up 1 million pieces of rubbish off New Zealand & Australia’s beaches.

Raglan Coconut Yoghurt has a large variety of flavours, with all the favourites covered but also some innovative flavours to try like the popular Banana & Chai, Mango & Turmeric and Strawberry & Acai.

Competition is a little tougher in Australia with some established brands already in the market but Raglan Coconut Yoghurt co-founder, Latesha Randall (AKA Mrs Coconut), is confident the products will outperform any of the brands on the market here. “Everyone we speak to and taste test with knows the difference in our yoghurt. It has that true yoghurt-like texture that many coconut yoghurts are missing. We can’t wait to share our products with Australia,” she said.

Raglan Coconut Yoghurt is currently available in Harris Farm, Scoop Wholefoods, Mrs Watson’s, as well as other retail outlets.

NZ Tamarillo products heading to US

New Zealand’s Tamarillo Co-operative has signed a major deal with a distributor allowing Tamarillo Marinade and Tamarillo Vinegar to be sold in the US and Canada.

The first of shipment of tamarillo pulp has left Whangarei for US-based food producer and distributor, Serious Foodie. Tamarillos are processed into pulp and vinegar concentrate in New Zealand and exported to Serious Foodie in bulk. Florida-based Serious Foodie then makes the pulp into Tamarillo Marinade and Tamarillo Vinegar.

Serious Foodie specialises in developing gourmet products for the home chef.

It introduced Tamarillo Marinade and Tamarillo Vinegar at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York at the end of June, receiving great feedback and so has started production. Serious Foodie Tamarillo Marinade and Tamarillo Vinegar will sell online, at US farmers’ markets and be distributed to gourmet supermarkets and stores across the US and Canada.

New Zealand Tamarillo Co-operative Director and Manager, Robin Nitschke said, “It was a rewarding achievement after working on the deal for two and a half years.”

Serious Foodie first contacted the co-operative more than two years ago interested in expanding its range of high-end specialty products. It believed an exotic fruit like the tamarillo would appeal to their discerning customers.

As well as the US deal, the Co-operative is working on other export opportunities. Robin Nitschke said vinaigrette and relish will shortly be shipped to Brisbane and negotiations are under way for vinaigrette concentrate to be introduced to European and Asian markets in a variety of products.

Robin Nitschke, with five other grower members, established the Tamarillo Co-operative three years ago. “Our aim is to have more influence at the beginning of the supply chain by channeling fruit through one merchant and then providing more choices to add value to the fruit at the end of the supply chain,” said Nitschke.

Robin Nitschke said that after gaining recognition in 2016 as finalists in the NZ Food Awards Artisan category, supermarkets, specialty food outlets and food service companies have had good demand for the co-operative’s For the Love of Tams, Tamarillo Relish and For the Love of Tams, Tamarillo Vinegar Dressing.

NZ’s tastiest steak named

Last night, New Zealand’s most tender and tasty steak was announced at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition awards dinner, held in association with PGG Wrightson.

Tim & Kelly Brittain from Otorohanga have been awarded the 2017 Grand Champion title for their Angus steak, in the competition’s 15th year.

Being recognised as the country’s top beef producer is an achievement Tim and Kelly are extremely proud of.

“Each year our entries into this competition have stepped up a level and I am so proud that tonight all our work and efforts can be celebrated. This outcome is a significant achievement and something that Kelly and I have been working towards,” said Tim Brittain.

The panel of judges, including renowned chefs, Ben Bayly, Gareth Stewart and Shaun Clouston completed two rounds of judging before the Brittains’ steak was deemed the county’s top from an initial line-up of 64 semi-finalists.

Chef judge, Shaun Clouston recognizes the way in which this competition shines light on the country’s beef farmers, acknowledging that the high quality of beef within the New Zealand food service is down to their fine-tuned farming activities.

“The paddock to plate link is one that New Zealanders are really interested in. It is important for us chefs to appreciate this and understand that an outstanding steak dish and dining experience starts well before the restaurant kitchen,” said Clouston.

Prior to the judging day, scientists at Carne technologies tested all 305 of the competition entries to determine the top 20% in each competition class to progress through to judging.

The two rounds of judging had the chefs assess each steak against a set of criteria such as aroma, tenderness, juiciness and taste. The first round of judging determined the medal placings in each class, results which were also announced at the awards dinner last night. From here the gold medal winning steaks in each class, excluding Lifestyle, were re-judged to decide the 2017 Grand Champion and the 2017 Brand winner.

The competition’s six Best of Breed classes were open to all New Zealand beef farmers and included classes for European, British Angus, British Hereford, British Other and Crossbreeds and a class for Lifestyle farmers. The Best of Brand competition included a class for retailers and a class for wholesalers and foodservice suppliers.

The 2017 Brand winner was also announced with Countdown taking home the title with their Countdown Angus brand and the Processor of the 2017 Grand Champion was Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby.

The competition is sponsored by PGG Wrightson and supported by AFFCO Moerewa, Alliance Group Ltd, Ashburton Meat Processors, Auckland Meat Processors/Wilson Hellaby, Cabernet Foods, CMP Kokiri, Harris Meats, Land Meat NZ, Oamaru Meats, Progressive Meats, Silver Fern Farms and Taylor Preston.

Food Collective addressing NZ food waste issue

With supermarkets across New Zealand rising to the food waste challenge, chefs and food service professionals are encouraged to join the Food Collective by donating surplus food, minimising food waste to landfill and understanding how food waste can be better managed in their kitchen.

The partnership between Unilever Food Solutions, KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh, provides the opportunity to raise much needed revenue for the charities, whilst increasing awareness of reducing waste in commercial kitchens and redirecting surplus foods to people in need. For each case of Unilever Food Solutions purchased, 50 cents will be donated to KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh.

“Reducing food waste is one of the big challenges facing the hospitality industry,” said Unilever Food Solutions Business Manager New Zealand, Reece McLaughlan.

“Food has a high carbon ‘footprint’, and so while most people think of only the disposal expenses, the costs are actually much higher. It requires considerable energy to grow, harvest, transport, process, package, retail and prepare food, so wastage has a serious impact on our planet,” he notes.

KiwiHarvest and Kaibosh have delivered over five million meals in need in their community to date.

“Unilever Food Solutions has taken an important step towards addressing these issues with the Food Collective,” said KiwiHarvest CEO and Founder Deborah Manning. “The hospitality industry can show support for our work rescuing food and nourishing communities, by ordering products from the Unilever Food Solutions range. Together we can make a difference.”

The three organisations are also encouraging chefs across all types of foodservice venues to support this simple, yet effective movement to take up leaderships positions on the issue in their industry.

Kiwis eating less red meat – research

More than half of Kiwis say they are eating less meat, and a quarter expect to be mostly meat-free by 2025 as they focus on their health and budget, according to a new survey.

It seems the days of a nightly meal of meat and two veg may soon be behind us too, with one in five of those surveyed (21 per cent) saying they choose to have a meat-free dinner for more than half of the week.

The Bean Supreme survey which investigated the eating habits of more than 1,000 New Zealanders found that one in four (24 per cent) of those surveyed expect to be mostly meat-free within the next seven years.

Health played a key role in their selection of a vegetarian meal choice with four in 10 (42 per cent) respondents giving this reason, this was followed by cost (28 per cent) and concerns for animal welfare or the environment 14 percent. Only two percent of those surveyed said they did not eat meat due to religious considerations.

Around 14 per cent of Kiwi women and 13 per cent of Kiwi men do not eat red meat, with health a primary driver for males (44 per cent vs 41 per cent of females) and cost more relevant to women (for 30 per cent of women vs 25 per cent of men).

The survey also found that Kiwis were more likely to reduce their meat consumption and instead, opt for vegetarian meals as they aged. According to the results, one in five (21 per cent) 18-24 years olds (compared to half of those aged 65 or older) selected ‘health concerns’ as the main reason for choosing a meat-free meal.

Millennials aged 18-24 were the most common age group to believe they would follow a diet that was mainly meat-free over the coming decade.

When it came to special dietary requirements it was Aucklanders who said they were most likely to follow vegan or vegetarian nutritional plans with those in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regions less keen on embracing this trend.

Wellingtonians and Otago/Southland residents were most open to adopting a flexitarian/semi-vegetarian approach to dining – with nine in ten (88 per cent) removing meat from their diets at least once a week.

The survey also revealed that vegetarians and vegans were most frequently found to be aged 25-54, female and live in Auckland or Canterbury.

While more than eight in ten (81 per cent) Kiwis include red meat in their diet, a seventh (14 per cent) excluded red meat with 1 per cent of the population identifying as vegan, 2 per cent as vegetarian and almost one in 10 (9 per cent) saying they ate poultry or fish but not red meat.

Liz O’Meara from Bean Supreme says it was interesting to see that a similar proportion of men and women chose not to eat meat but men were more likely to choose vegetarian meals for health reasons and women more likely to chose vegetarian options for their lower cost.

“Kiwis’ developing interest in a ‘flexitarian’ diet has led to the introduction of more products which fit this lifestyle option,” she said.

“According to new industry data, NZ sales of products made from plant based ingredients such as vegetarian burgers, sausages, tofu and falafel increased by over 20 per cent in the last year alone.”


Dairy-free cheddar an NZ first

Innovator of dairy-free products, Angel Food has created New Zealand’s first- ever vegan cheddar – free from dairy, eggs, meat and GMOs – and instead made with peas, sunflowers and corn.

“Cheese is one of those things that many people find the hardest to give up when they go dairy-free,” said Angel Food CEO and founder, Alice Shopland. “That’s why we’ve created this convenient, tasty substitute. We want to make it easy for people to cut back on dairy.”

The release of the dairy-free cheddar alternative also marks a milestone for the Auckland-based company, which has been in the business of creating plant-based products for a decade. It is the first in a series of new Angel Food releases, developed to meet the growing market demand for dairy-free.

The brand was originally founded by Shopland so that those who are dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan can still enjoy their favourite food rituals. Its products are designed for maximum enjoyment and minimum intolerance.

“It’s important to be able to have pizza with your mates on a Friday night – even if you are vegan or lactose intolerant,” explained Shopland.

It’s also why the company has worked hard to ensure their products are not only convenient but also widely available.

Plant-based and certified by the Vegetarian Society, Angel Food’s new dairy-free cheddar alternative is available to buy nationwide in supermarkets, health food stores and online this month.

The cheddar joins its existing range of ready-made cheese sauces and dairy-free mozzarella and parmesan alternatives. Angel Food’s dairy-free mozzarella alternative is also available at Hell’s Pizza.

Oji Fibre Solutions unveils NZ paper bag plant upgrade

Oji Fibre Solutions (OjiFS) has unveiled upgraded and expanded facilities at its Auckland paper bag manufacturing plant.

According to the company, the NZ$30m ($27.7m) capital investment lifts production capacity and provides a world-class food safety environment that aims to future proof the business and continue to set the global standard in dairy bag production.

The new facilities were officially opened on Friday by the Minister for Economic Development, Hon Simon Bridges.

OjiFS chief executive Jon Ryder said the event marks one of the first milestones in an exciting new chapter in the company’s history.

“The decision to invest $30 million into this site was made in February 2015, within months of the purchase of our business (formerly CHH Pulp, Paper and Packaging) by Oji Holdings and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) in November 2014. It is a strong sign of Oji’s commitment to New Zealand and our intent to grow the Oji Fibre Solutions business in NZ and Australia,” said Ryder.

Ryder said the business has traditionally been a supplier of commodity products – the Penrose investment reflects its transition to become more of a solutions company for its customers.

“We are determined to develop a portfolio of value added products that address the sectors we support; in this case dairy, flour and sugar. Our investment provides a world- class food safety environment which is vital to ensure the integrity of the supply chain,” he said.

The investment project has seen the extension of the plant’s existing hygiene hall and upgrade of a conversion line that produces multi-walled bags for dairy and food powder packaging. It entailed upgrading of all aspects of critical hygiene, installation of state of the art bag-making equipment and construction of an additional 3,000m2 of onsite warehousing and associated facilities.

New York Taste for NZ eel growing

Growing demand for New Zealand eel by U.S. consumers has helped increase exports of the fish, particularly to New York according to new figures.

Statistics New Zealand export figures for the industry show sales of eel to North America grew by 115 per cent last year.

Award winning US restaurateur and executive chef for Hawaiian Airlines Chai Chaowasaree (pictured) says while the freshwater fish is not yet a common menu item throughout the country, increasingly eel is found in a more diverse range of restaurants.

“Historically eel or ‘unagi’ has long been a staple in Asian and particularly, Japanese sushi restaurants across North America however now we are seeing it incorporated into other styles of cuisine,” he said.

Chaowasaree says eel in the US is usually smoked, grilled, or stewed; however his favourite recipe is more traditional.

“I like it grilled, topped with Kabayaki Sauce, and served over sushi rice,” says Chaowasaree. He says eel can taste muddy so the smoky and sweet flavours of the Kabayaki sauce helps to mellow the taste.

Brad Matheny, senior director of Hawaiian Airlines cargo division which helps New Zealand exporters deliver thousands of live eels to New York each year says the carrier’s own figures show impressive growth for the niche export.

“The second half of 2016 was particularly strong for Kiwi eel exporters, our figures show eel shipments from New Zealand were up more than 2600% on same period in the year prior – with all of this product delivered to NYC,” he says.

Matheny says offering the fastest widebody service between Auckland and JFK airports has helped Kiwi exporters provide a high quality product to their consumers in New York.

“New Zealand freshwater eels need to be kept at a specific temperature and have a limited shelf life.

“By reducing transit time, we have increased the speed at which we can bring the goods to market and ultimately improving the freshness of the product on arrival,” he says.

More than $584,000 worth of NZ eel was shipped to US wholesalers last year – up from $271,000 in the previous year.

The growth trend for US demand for eel is much higher than the rest of the world which showed a 39 per cent decline in sales in the previous year. North America now takes almost a third of all New Zealand live eel exports – this is up from less than 10 per cent in the previous year.



Sanitarium NZ gets new boss

Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing New Zealand has appointed Rob Scoines as it new general manager.

Scoines brings excellent leadership and experience in building high performing teams to his new role.

His wealth of experience in Sanitarium is represented by his significant years of service in a variety of roles, including accounting, HR, logistics, and manufacturing in locations across New Zealand and Australia.

Most recently, Scoines’ achievements as the general manager for logistics has seen Sanitarium Australia become the preferred supplier with the company’s trading partners over the past 10 years.

He has accomplished incredible feats of endurance personally through his participation in marathon events and mountain climbing, and has shown genuine passion for making a difference in the community.

“I enjoy a challenge and am motivated by Sanitarium’s purpose of sharing health and wellbeing,” says Scoines.

“I see leadership as a privilege because it’s an opportunity to positively impact people as they grow and develop, while they in turn make a positive impact on the business and the community. Being the country’s number one breakfast food manufacturer offers us a unique opportunity to make a difference.”

In the last financial year, Sanitarium New Zealand achieved a sales turnover of $150 million and provided more than 500 million serves of healthy products for consumers.

Russia to ban imports of New Zealand beef

Russia is planning to temporarily ban beef and beef by-products from New Zealand, claiming they contain listeria and ractopamine, a banned feed additive.

AFP reports that Russia’s agricultural safety body Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement that the products had been involved in “repeated violations” of standards.

In addition, the watchdog is considering a similar ban on New Zealand fish because of claims it has been found to contain mercury and listeria microbes.

Chief executive of New Zealand’s Meat Industry Association Tim Ritchie told the Ministry for Primary Industries’ residues program had not picked up the presence of ractopamine.

“As far as I’m aware there has been no formal communication through the normal regulatory channels,” he said.

Ractopamine promotes leanness and muscle growth in livestock. In New Zealand, it may be used with pork, but is prohibited for use with sheep and beef cattle.

While it is banned in Russia and the EU, it is allowed in other countries, including the US, Canada and Brazil.

Villa Maria moves to direct distribution model in Australia

Villa Maria, New Zealand’s most awarded winery, has announced plans to establish its own Australian-based sales and distribution operation to continue to grow its presence in the market.

The family-owned winery made the decision following the acquisition of its distributor Fine Wine Partners by Accolade Wines, with the aim of creating greater flexibility for its marketing and distribution as well as getting closer to its customers.

 “Villa Maria has had a very successful relationship with Fine Wine Partners for the past 12 years,” said founder and owner Sir George Fistonich. “With their support, Villa Maria has become one of the largest New Zealand wine brands in Australia and has a very solid reputation, validated by many awards including Winestate’s New Zealand Winery of the Year, which we’ve won 15 out of 19 years.”

 The company currently has two wine brands active in Australia – Vidal and Villa Maria, and will assess future growth for the business once they’re firmly established in the market. In the interim, Villa Maria will take advantage of this unique opportunity to focus on the highly lauded Reserve and Single Vineyard wines – both for on and off premise.

  “We see the potential to grow significantly in Australia. Because we are focusing on a limited number of brands with different strategies, we can be very efficient and dedicated in all of our sales and marketing efforts. This is a huge opportunity to work more closely with our customers to ensure we are meeting their needs,” Sir George said.

 Villa Maria will commence its new operation from 1 March 2017. In the interim, it will be business as usual and Fine Wine Partners will continue to sell and distribute the Villa Maria range with no interruption of service to customers.

NZ food price index drops in December

New Zealand’s food price index fell 0.8 per cent in December, with lower food prices across most food items, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Vegetable prices fell for the fourth consecutive month, led by cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

“This seasonal movement is expected as we move through summer – December has been the cheapest month for these kinds of vegetable for the past five years,” consumer prices manager Matt Haigh said. “Citrus fruits are also following their seasonal trend, rising 11 percent in December.”

Despite the seasonal decrease, food prices increased by 0.6 percent in the year to December 2016, led by vegetables, milk, and butter. Milk rose 6.1 percent in the year, to $3.32 for two litres, and butter rose 34 percent, to $4.12 for a 500g block.

New awards unearth NZ’s outstanding food & drinks producers


Kiwi producers are being encouraged to enter new awards developed to recognise New Zealand’s outstanding food and drinks producers.

The Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards, in partnership with leading lifestyle title NZ Life & Leisure will acknowledge this country’s best producers. Whether people are growing apples, kiwifruit, potatoes or fresh herbs; making chutney or jams; raising sheep or cattle; making sausages smoking meat or practising charcuterie, fishing or farming seafood or making seafood pate – these awards will recognise their hard work and outstanding products.

Created by two of the country’s food leading marketers, Kathie Bartley and Nicola McConnell, the Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards have been more than a year in the making. The pair developed the Awards as existing offerings don’t catering for the changing food production landscape or the needs of consumers who are more socially conscious and want fresh, local produce that is sustainably produced.

Co-creator Kathie Bartley forged her career marketing New Zealand food and wine. Her credits include: development of the original Corbans Wine and Food Challenge and the Cuisine Artisan Awards. She pioneered the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year and continues to work on Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Awards. Nicola McConnell had a 15 year career marketing wine and food in Australia before returning home to live the Kiwi dream.

The Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards will be judged by a panel of leading food experts lead by Lauraine Jacobs, well-known for championing New Zealand food locally and abroad. Lauraine is a Past President of the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals).

Lauraine Jacobs says; “I am delighted to be involved in the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards. I know we have many exceptional producers in New Zealand and this is a huge opportunity to recognise their work and their world-class products, whether they’re straight from the farm, or value-added by clever food producers. I am confident the rewards and recognition generated for Awards winners will raise their profiles and enhance business opportunities in New Zealand and overseas.”

To be eligible for entry producers must sell their products in New Zealand, they must meet Food Safety New Zealand and Australia (FSNZA) regulations and The Fair Trading Act.

Kiwi foodies can take part in the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards by voting via for their favourite, Farmers’ Market, New Zealand Food Region or Specialty Food Store via

NZ chefs join forces to help launch sustainable seafood app

Forest & Bird is preparing to release a consumer guide to sustainable New Zealand seafood this Thursday, with the support of a number of that nation’s cooking personalities.

The Best Fish Guide is a mobile app which uses a traffic light system to guide consumers in their purchasing decisions for 87 different fish species.

“I believe the entire culinary community can play an important part in safeguarding the future of our oceans – by raising awareness of the vulnerability of many of our seafoods, helping people make ocean-friendly choices and sharing ideas about how to cook lesser-known species,” commented Chef and publisher Annabel Langbein who has added her voice and a custom recipe to the guide.

The guide is built on comprehensive, independent research, and will show which seafood species are caught most sustainably, and which are having the worst impact on the environment.

“New Zealanders have been shocked this year by revelations of illegal and destructive fishing practices, so we’re really pleased to offer a simple, accurate guide that cuts through the talk and lets consumers make a genuine difference for our ocean,” said Kevin Hackwell, Forest & Bird Campaigns Manager.

“Only half of 1% of our marine environment is protected in no-take reserves. On land, 30% of the environment has conservation status and this should be the same for the sea. Thirty percent of our marine space needs to be protected in no-take marine reserves.

“In the meantime, consumers can use their purchasing power to send a message to retailers and the fishing industry that they want sustainably fished seafood.”