Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief

News
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What's been happening around the traps in agribusiness? Here's a quick snapshot.

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A2 posts $146m profit

Dairy product export star A2 Milk has posted a jump in half-year net profit of more than 50 per cent, with its infant formula market share in China expanding despite a slowdown in consumer spending in its largest market.

Net profit was $146.4 million (NZ$152.7m) for the six months to December 31, against $94.3 (NZ$98.5m) for the same time last year.

Managing director, Jayne Hrdlicka, said A2 was not experiencing the slowing demand in China other companies reported, and there was healthy underlying demand for its products.

The trans-Tasman, dual listed, A2 company had grown its market share in China by pushing into smaller cities.

"Market investment in the second half will be double that in first half," she said, noting much of it would be focused on lifting brand awareness.

A2’s total revenue for the half year jumped 41pc to NZ$613.1m, while revenue from China and other Asia markets grew about 50pc.

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Ridley profit up 29pc

Stock feed manufacturer, Ridley Corporation’s results for the six months to December 31 delivered an almost 30 per cent lift in net profit after tax to $16.1 million and a 17pc rise in revenue to $523.5m.

The sale of two parcels of land at Lara in Victoria, which generated $9.5m, boosted the company’s property earnings and overall result.

Ridley makes about 2m tonnes of high-performance animal feed and feed ingredients at 21 sites under brands such as Barastoc, Cobber, Rumevite and Primo.

Operations recorded a result of $21.5m, marginally behind the previous corresponding period result of $22.8m.

Managing director, Tim Hart, said a sharp increase in raw material prices, particularly grain, added to costs, and negligible relief was expected in the current half year.

However, improved sales volumes had still delivered a record result from dairy, beef and sheep product revenues as drought feeding in NSW and Queensland ramped up.

He expected a pull back in feed demand in the second half, due to increasing grain prices hurting farmer returns.

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Seeds of success

Heritage Seeds will open a new $15 million world-class processing facility at Toowoomba in Queensland this year following its recent acquisition of Queensland-based Australian Premium Seeds, Blue Ribbon Seeds and Premium Seed Coaters.

Part of the Netherlands-based Barenbrug Group, Heritage has key sites in Toowoomba and Melbourne and smaller Queensland sites in Brisbane and at Walkami, plus third party logistics warehouses.

Future investment is planned for Walkamin to assist its expanding tropical seeds business in northern Australia.

Heritage Seeds recently recruited national operations manager, Rory Richards, responsible for its warehouse and processing plants, including all coating, blending, mixing, bagging and product dispatching.

He was previously chief executive officer of Premium Milk in Toowoomba, and prior to that worked with dairy giant, Fonterra, developing its South East Asian milk pools and setting up a mega $500 million Chinese dairy with a herd of 36,000 head.

He has also had senior roles with RM Williams Agricultural Holdings and its organic poultry business Inglewood Farms.

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Financial complaints option

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority has welcomed the federal government’s decision to extend its remit to review complaints against finance sector operators dating back to 2008.

The service provides an alternative to tribunals and courts to resolve complaints consumers and small businesses have with their financial firms.   

The AFCA, a non-government organisation approved by the federal government to administer a free, fair and independent dispute resolution scheme, reviews complaints about financial products and services.

From July this year it has 12 months to accept eligible complaints regarding banking sector conduct dating to January 1, 2008 - an extension on most AFCA cases which focus on matters occurring within the past six years.

“We believe that this will provide access to justice and redress to many thousands of Australian consumers,” said AFCA chief ombudsman, David Locke.

  • Complaints can be lodged with AFCA via afca.org.au, or by contacting 1800 931 678.

Heritage Bank tops awards

Southern Queensland-based not-for-profit lender, Heritage Bank, has taken the overall banking category in the Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Awards, which identify Australia’s most satisfying banks, insurers and superannuation funds.

After a tough year for financial sector players tarnished by the banking Royal Commission, declining trust and challenged by industry disrupters, Roy Morgan Research chief executive officer, Michele Levine, said it was a major achievement to be rated the number one bank for customer satisfaction.

Interestingly, customer satisfaction scores for the big four banks remained steady in 2018 and well above the long term average despite the Royal Commission.

For the sixth year running, Commonwealth Bank claimed the major bank award.

People’s Choice Credit Union won the Credit Unions and Building Societies category, one of the highest-scoring fields in customer satisfaction.

The winning general insurer for the fourth successive year was Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT) Insurance.

Risk and life insurer of the year was Insuranceline, just ahead of Suncorp, while winning private health insurer was not-for-profit health fund, St.LukesHealth

Catholic Super won the industry superannuation fund of the year title, for the fourth time. Retail super fund category winner was Macquarie.

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CropLogic in US hemp rush

New Zealand agricultural technology company, CropLogic, has cemented plans to establish a trial farm in Oregon, USA, leasing a 61 hectare property to grow industrial hemp.

The Australian-listed business has also recruited an experienced hemp specialist to assist its agronomy and precision agricultural team.

Meanwhile, Sydney-based Stephen Silver, the managing director of Hunter Capital Advisors, which supported CropLogic’s Australian market listing, has been appointed a director, following the resignation of director and chairman Cheryl Edwardes and Dr Andrew Whitehead.

Director Steven Wakefield has taken on the acting chairman’s role.

CropLogic’s US hemp expansion follows its activity in horticultural cropping in Oregon and Washington state since 2017 and more recently Idaho, providing irrigated croppers with digital analytical expertise and agronomy services.

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Regional jobs summit

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) will launch its foundation research paper – The Future of Regional Jobs – at its inaugural Regions Rising event in Canberra on April 4 and 5.

The paper assesses key drivers and trends for regional jobs in the next five years and beyond.

The two-day seminar program will include presentations from leading experts on regional jobs, policy, population trends, health and education, and a chance for participants to a say, in four ‘policy hack’ sessions which will help formulate plans of action for government to consider for future development.

On Day Two a regional policy Masterclass will see experts provide their insights on how best to influence and agitate for change.

  • Do you have an agribusiness event or newsy developments within your organisation which could feature in Agribusiness Buzz? Contact andrew.marshall@fairfaxmedia.com.au
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