Agribusiness buzz in brief

Andrew Marshall
By Andrew Marshall
May 6 2022 - 5:00am
Agribusiness buzz in brief

Forrest ups Bega stake

Mining and agribusiness big spender, Andrew Forrest's Tattarang family investment arm now owns 10 per cent of Bega Cheese.

Tattarang has confirmed it spent about $15.2 million buying just over 3 million shares during April.

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Since Tattarang began buying into Bega's share register about six months ago it has rapidly accumulated 30.3m shares, which this week were trading around $4.95 each.

The national dairy, spreads and sauces company's share price has slipped since Tattarang made its latest investment move - down from about $5.20 in mid-April.

Bega recently flagged a big jump in costs related to the coronavirus pandemic, including export delays in overseas ports, plus flood-related challenges in eastern Australia, and a shortage of local milk in a thirsty global market.

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Agribusiness buzz in brief

Mothers' Day flower power

Research by floristry firm, Roses Only, suggests the Australian retail market will deliver more than 5 million flowers in time for Mothers' Day on May 8.

That equates to enough flower deliveries to cover a football field.

"It's estimated around 62 per cent of Australians are planning to spoil mum this Mother's Day and according to data, flowers are the most popular gift," said Roses Only chief executive officer, Kelly Taggart.

The top five most popular Mothers' Day varieties were chrysanthemums, tulips, roses, lilies and sunflowers.

Also on the shopping list were 4m gift cards, 2.4m pieces of jewellery gifted, 2m pyjama sets given, and more than 3m boxes of chocolates to be eaten.

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Malaysian social media influencer Abang Brian shares his love of Aussie cherries.

Cherry export success

A marketing campaign across Vietnam and Malaysia featuring luxury, ribbon-handled gift boxes filled of premium Australian cherries has resulted almost 4000 boxes selling out and importers wanting more.

Taste Australia, a joint initiative led by Hort Innovation with growers and Austrade, and five leading importers, organised the consignment in the lead up to the Lunar New Year peak season.

Hort Innovation's trade head Brei Montgomery said the campaign aimed to educate importers, retailers, media and importantly, consumers about the premium nature and high quality of Australian cherries.

"The cherry displays we had in place in major retail outlets across Vietnam and Malaysia were attracting large crowds, and consumers enjoyed the novelty of this high-end offering," she said.

Last financial year 16 per cent of Australia's cherries were exported to Vietnam, and 4.53pc to Malaysia.

Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and South Australia are Australia's top cherry producing states.

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Agribusiness buzz in brief

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Rejected produce hotline

Sydney-based social enterprise outfit, Good & Fugly has launched a produce 'rescue' hotline to buy surplus fruit and vegetables from farmers whose imperfect lines are rejected by retailers.

Founded in 2020, Good & Fugly works with farmers to source blemished or imperfect produce to reduce the environmental impact of food waste while creating new revenue streams for farmers.

The 13-000-FUGLY hotline is a direct response to the significant volume of produce wasted due to not meeting retailers' aesthetic specifications

Northern Victorian farmer, Paul Milano, Swan Hill, who partnered with Good & Fugly after retailers rejected hundreds of kilograms of fruit, said everybody loses when good eating quality produce goes to waste, when it was fine for human consumption.

"Last year on our farm alone 50 tonnes had to be thrown away and this kind of thing is being duplicated across Australia."

More than a quarter of fresh fruit and veg did not meet supermarkets' beauty standards, leaving farmers at a loss, not only in revenue but for their wasted time, energy and resources.

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  • Contact 13-000-FUGLY (1-3-TRIPLE ZERO-FUGLY)

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Agribusiness buzz in brief

Special SunRice vote

Farmer-backed SunRice will hold a special general meeting in southern NSW on June 1 for A-class shareholders to vote on the re-appointment of two Rice Marketing Board nominees to its 10-seat board.

SunRice traditionally has two RMB directors automatically nominated for election to its board.

Chairman, Laurie Arthur, has told shareholders it had become clear "some A-class shareholders have a particular interest" in the outcome of the RMB's own recent board elections and the two grower representatives, John Bradford and Ian Mason, who were chosen for SunRice's board table.

If one or both RMB candidates are not supported by a shareholder vote at SunRice's Jerilderie special meeting, their positions will remain vacant.

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RMB directors represent the board's single desk interests, which SunRice holds as the government-appointed sole export marketer of the NSW rice crop.

SunRice's full annual general meeting is in August.

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Nufarm appointment

Former Mayne Pharma general counsel, Kate Hall, has taken over as company secretary and general counsel at crop chemical and seeds business, Nufarm.

She previously also worked as special counsel with big law firm MinterEllison and as intellectual property counsel with Royal Dutch Shell in The Hague.

Ms Hall replaces Paul Townsend and Terrie Morgan who handled the company secretary's roles on a transitional basis since January.

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Improved insect farming 

A Danish insect farming business claims it has invented a simple self ventilating method for the rearing of black soldier fly larvae which promises to cut the investment requirement of setting up a rearing and processing plant by 80 per cent.

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"We are in the final stages of validating our second-generation prototype and hope to operate our first pilot production facility in 2022," said Insectum's chairman of the board and former minister of business in Denmark, Rasmus Jarlov.

Insectum, founded in 2018, expected harvest output could reach 350 kilograms of larvae per square metre of production unit in a week.

"The system will revolutionise production of insect protein and has potential to contribute significantly to the increase in global output over the next decade", he said.

Black soldier fly larvae could make a major contribution to bridging the demand gap and help cut the environmental impacts of mega cities, and their food systems, while keeping greenhouse gas emissions low.

The larvae can feed on standard feed grade materials like grain as well as bad and discarded crops, food waste, low-value industrial by-products, manure, sludge and carrion, turning it into about 116 grams of fertiliser, 170 grams of protein and 130 grams of lipids per kilo of larvae.

These products can, in turn, become foods such as meatballs, spreads, crackers, bread and snacks, or stockfeed, or be used in textiles, pharmaceuticals or as biofuel.

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Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

National agribusiness writer

Andrew Marshall is the group agribusiness writer for ACM's state agricultural weeklies and websites. He is a former editor at The Land and has worked in various Rural Press group roles in Canberra, North Richmond (NSW) and Toowoomba (Qld).

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