Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief

News
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A snapshot peak at what the movers and shakers in agribusiness have been up to

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Wine exports hit $2.9b

The average value of Australian bottled wine exports has reached a record $6.79 a litre with exports valued at more than $10/litre hitting the $1 billion mark for the first time in the past year.

Total Australian wine exports grew seven per cent in value to $2.89 billion in the year to September 30, helped by continued growth in earnings from China and encouraging growth in the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, South Korea and Belgium.

However, export volumes dipped eight per cent to 774 million litres.

Wine Australia chief executive officer, Andreas Clark, said the growth in value reflected a strong underlying story with growth in all price segments above $5/litre.

Wine shipped at an average value of $10/litre and higher reached record levels for both value and volume.

Wine exports valued in the $20 to $30 a bottle range grew 47pc to be worth $247m, while similar big growth was recorded in the $30 to $50 category (up 33pc) to total $130m and the cheaper $10 to $15/bottle category (up 29pc) to total $267m.

Greensill grows into agribusiness

International non-bank lender, Greensill, has raided Rabobank's ranks to significantly grow its agribusiness team with a number of recruits whose global finance careers have also involved machinery giant, John Deere.

Australian-based global managing director of agriculture, Justin Harrison, hired by Greensill in July after a 16-year career with Rabo in Australia and overseas, will now be joined by new directors, Brian Haezebroeck, Scott Cline, Jamey Ross, Ryan Waterman and Tom Owen.

Justin Harrison

Justin Harrison

Mr Haezebroeck had 20 years with John Deere and Rabo AgriFinance; Mr Cline spent the past five years at Rabo AgriFinance's vendor finance team, and prior to that 14 with Deere, and Mr Ross had a combined 25 years with Rabo AgriFinance and John Deere Financial.

Ryan Waterman also joins Greensill after 20 years with Rabo AgriFinance and Tom Owen was most recently vice president - senior relationship manager for Rabo AgriFinance.

Founded in London in 2011 by Lex Greensill, the company has offices in New York, Chicago, Miami, Frankfurt, Bremen, and Sydney, with more than 450 specialists worldwide providing working capital loans.

It has extended more than $85 billion to customers in 165-plus countries.

Greensill, which traces its origins to Queensland cane farmer, and Lex's grandfather, Roy Greensill, boasts a commitment to helping farmers and agribusinesses unlock capital tied up in the entire agricultural supply chain.

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Ceres Ag stays trading

Creditors of the insolvent NSW-based Ceres Agricultural Company have voted to appoint new management and reduce the size of the business to focus on livestock trading with the hope of receiving payments of between 17 cents and 46c in the dollar.

Ceres, which reportedly has debts totalling $175 million, was formed in 2012 when Pegela Pastoral Company, established in 2003 by former stockbroker, Garrick Hawkins, merged with Singapore-based Duxton Asset Management.

Ceres farmed more than 30,000 hectares of land on 15 properties leased from related parties in the Ceres group, turned off about 100,000 cattle a year, and ran 20,000 Merino sheep.

Its NSW properties included showpiece holdings, Ballyroe and Mayfield on the Central Tablelands at Oberon; the 7000-head Gunyerwarildi feedlot at Warialda; and Oaklands at Moree.

Although drought was blamed, in part, for the financial collapse, creditors estimate Ceres may have been insolvent for more than three years.

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AgDay in focus

National Agriculture Day (AgDay) will be celebrated on November, 21 with community and business events recognising the significance of primary industries to the Australian economy and its social fabric.

The National Farmers Federation's AgDay photo competition is now open, supported by farm machinery tyre supplier, Harvest Tyres.

The theme for the competition is "We Are Australian Farmers."

Entrants are urged to enter images which display the shared values between city and country.

The competition will offer prizes of $1000 cash, $500 and $250 for first, second and third placings.

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Fonterra back to basics 

Debt-heavy New Zealand-based dairy kingpin, Fonterra, is set to move 15 per cent of the staff at its new central Auckland head office to a processing plant in city's south, having previously moved some of the same employees from the Takanni site three years ago.

Fonterra, which reported a $560 million ($NZ600m) loss in 3018-19 has about 1100 staff in its Fanshawe Street headquarters.

Fonterra Brands NZ managing director, Brett Henshaw, said the company had been talking to about 160 staff about a possible move in mid-2020.

The potential restructure is in line with back to basics philosophy at the big co-op following its ambitious debt-fuelled global expansion plans of recent years.

Meanwhile, the trans-Tasman giant will have a new chief operating officer starting in early 2020.

The current chief executive of Mercury NZ, Fraser Whineray, has previously worked at Credit Suisse, Puhoi Valley Cheese and Carter Holt Harvey, and chairs the NZ Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council.

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Ag quarantine hard line 

Two more international visitors have been refused entry into Australia after attempting to bring risky agricultural products into the country.

The Bangladeshi travellers arrived at Perth airport last weekend, concealing and failing to declare 21 live plants which could have put Australia's $2 billion horticulture industry at risk.

Both had their visas cancelled and were placed in immigration detention, pending removal from Australia.

Their detention follows a second Vietnamese national's return home after attempting to bring four kilograms of undeclared pork products through Sydney airport in his luggage last weekend.

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said four visa cancellations for biosecurity breaches in three weeks showed Australia would "not tolerate people putting our world-class clean, green reputation at risk".

Live plants brought in airport luggage could carry exotic plant pests and diseases capable of destroying food production and agriculture industries and damaging the environment.

"This includes Xylella Fastidiosa, which has no cure and has had a catastrophic impact overseas, infecting more than 200 million citrus trees in Brazil, 1m olive trees in Italy and causing $90m in annual losses to California's grape sector."

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Big cheese family gift

A $10 million gift from the Mirella and Lino Saputo Foundation and the Amelia and Lino Saputo Jr. Foundation will allow the creation of a first-of-its-kind collaboration centre at Canada's Concordia University in Montreal.

The two couples are at the head of international cheese and dairy products business, Saputo Inc, which is also Australia's biggest milk processor.

Lino Saputo Jr

Lino Saputo Jr

The new SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will allow Concordia and its partners to develop community-based social transformation projects to develop solutions to complex challenges such as environmental degradation, political polarisation, wealth inequality and a rapidly changing labour market.

The gift is among the largest in the university's history.

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