Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief

Farm Online News
Keytone Dairy milk powder and nutrition powder products.

Keytone Dairy milk powder and nutrition powder products.


A quick look at what some players have been doing in agribusiness of late


NZ dairy’s ASX plans

New Zealand based milk powder processor, Keytone Enterprises, has lodged a prospectus to raise up to $15 million and list on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

The company aims to issue between 60 million and 75m shares at 20 cents each after its offer closes on June 1, giving it a market capitalisation of about $30m.

The four year-old Keytone makes dairy and nutrition blended products in Christchurch, NZ, for export to China, plus and a range of private label powdered dairy lines for NZ and overseas supermarkets, retail chains, and dairy product producers.

Founded by James Gong, the former sales head for NZ’s Westland Co-operative Dairy Company in Asia, Keytone’s other executives include former Warrnambool Cheese and Butter director, Bernard Kavanagh, and former Murray Goulburn nutritionals general manager, Peter Hobman.

Funds raised from the ASX initial public offering will be used to expand Keytone Dairy’s manufacturing base, product range, distribution network and market reach, particularly Asia.

A2 earnings rise again

The A2 Milk Company has revised its earnings with a nine month update to March 31, reporting a 70 per cent increase in group revenue on the same time last year to $606 million.

The performance reflects more sales growth in nutritional powder products and liquid milk sales, particularly in the Chinese market.

The New Zealand founded, but Australian-listed, A2 Milk business  forecasts group revenue of up to $845m for the year to June 30

Senior managers told a Singaporean investment briefing its total marketing investment would be about $78m for the year, after increasing its market activity in China and the US.

AgriVentis spice harvest

Seed technology company, AgriVentis Technologies, is about to harvest black sesame crops near Rockhampton to test the viability of the condiment as a commercial crop.

Working with Central Queensland University researchers and in partnership with Foxwell Farming in Alton Downs, AgriVentis is the first Australian company to conduct large-scale commercial trials of the valuable condiment.

Australia currently imports 94 per cent of domestic market spices and condiments, including 100pc of black sesame needs.

AgriVentis is working with local and state governments to identify suitable regions to support a range of crops which can tap into this import-replacement opportunity.

CQUniversity has evaluated different varieties of black sesame crops under field conditions, and in controlled glasshouse environments to assess water use efficiency and drought tolerance.

Mervis turns back to booze

Recently departed Murray Goulburn co-operative managing director, Ari Mervis, will become executive chairman at Accolade Wines.

Ari Mervis

Ari Mervis

Mr Mervis was hired by the struggling milk processing giant 15 months ago to turn the company around, eventually leading it to a $1.3 billion sale to Canada’s Saputo which took over at the start of this month.

He had previously run Carlton United Breweries until late 2016 when the Fosters Group’s parent company, SAB Miller, merged with the global beer giant, Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Mr Mervis joins Accolade in the new financial year, heading up a host of prominent winemaker names such as Leasingham, Hardys and Banrock Station.

Roots goes off-grid

Israel’s Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies has installed the world’s first solar or wind-operated irrigation by condensation (IBC) system to grow and sustaining food production growth cycles “off the grid” without conventional power or water supply.

The IBC off-grid system sources irrigation water only from humidity in the air and energy from the sun or wind.

High protein crops including beans and alfalfa were planted at the company’s research site in

Boaz Wachtel

Boaz Wachtel

Israel to demonstrate the system’s ability to enable small and medium scale farmers to

grow crops by drawing humidity from the air, even in remote semi-arid areas.

Roots was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange last year, raising extra capital to develop its root zone heating and cooling technology.

Boaz Wachtel, the inventor and Roots co-founder, said the IBC installation demonstrated a viable decentralised solution for many of the 500 million smallholder farmers who currently struggled with water for crop production.

The system was also designed for use in advanced agricultural countries to irrigate plantations and covered crops in greenhouses, or where water scarcity is a problem.

Roots is a graduate company of the Office of the Israeli Chief Scientist Technological Incubator program.

Archer Daniels Midland has scaled back its ethanol output, while Poet is expanding production.

Archer Daniels Midland has scaled back its ethanol output, while Poet is expanding production.

New ethanol king

US biofuel company, Poet, has become the world’s biggest ethanol producer, taking over from long-time corn processing giant and global grain business, Archer Daniels Midland.

The South Dakota-based Poet, formerly known as the Broin Companies, has increased annual biofuel capacity to 7.2 billion litres and is on track to hit 7.5b next year.

Illinois-based ADM currently produces just over 6b litres a year.

ADM revved up its ethanol output when the US began requiring fuel refineries to use biofuels as part of a national fuel security push in the early 2000s.

However, flattening US energy cost trends, aided by increased shale gas and oil production, and extensive petroleum industry lobbying against the biofuels policy, have diluted ADM’s ethanol output which was up to 6.8b litres/year.

The US’s many ethanol processors have the combined capacity to produce about 60b litres/year.

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