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AgTech Investments

Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services

Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG) is the largest general insurance company in Australia and New Zealand. The Group’s businesses underwrite almost $12 billion of premium per annum, selling insurance under many leading brands. IAG, Australia’s largest general insurer, made the investment in Digital Agriculture Services (DAS) through its $75 million venture capital fund Firemark Ventures.

In April, Firemark Ventures also bought a stake in US start-up Arturo, which applies similar methods as those used by DAS – aerial imaging, AI, data analytics – to an urban setting, assessing risks to individual residential and commercial properties.

Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company was established in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science and research agency, in 2017, with a mission to deliver reliable rural intelligence. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.

Despite the importance of food and agriculture to our economy, rural data is patchy and fragmented; inaccessible or unintelligible; or simply not connected in a way that’s useful. Every day, business, policy makers and farmers are making decisions without reliable rural data or analytics. This lack of data not only means billions in decisions are being based on inaccurate, unreliable or incomplete data – it means agriculture’s risk profile is far higher than it should be.

Problem statement – DAS

DAS’ founders believe that by providing the most reliable rural intelligence possible, we can give today’s decision makers the data they need to make more informed decisions. Decisions that build competitive advantage, wealth and prosperity for all.

Read more at Financial Review

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Food Safety Trade

India allows in-transit cold treatment for Australian Fruits

The Indian government has announced market improvements to allow in-transit cold treatment of Australian top fruit, summer fruit and table grapes. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says India’s approval of in-transit cold treatment of a variety of fruits is a major breakthrough for Australia’s growers. This approval to use in-transit cold treatment is expected to boost export volumes of Australian fruits such as table grapes, apple, pears and summer fruits.

The internationally accepted commercial cold treatment requirement for fruit flies is a minimum uninterrupted fruit pulp temperature and exposure time combination. The minimum cold treatment temperature for fruit flies in grapes, pears, plums and nectarines destined for India is 10 days at or below 0,0°C (32°F). For Ceratitis capitata, Mediterranean fruit fly, the treatment schedule is -3°C or below for 20 days and for Bactrocera trying, Queensland fruit fly, the treatment schedule is -3°C or below for 16 days.

Manual of Importing Country Requirements, Australia

The main benefit of cold treating products as it is transported, it gets to the market quicker and the exporter can charge a premium based on increased freshness. India offers a massive market of young, health conscious and vegetarian consumers seeking high quality fresh and safe fruit and vegetables. In 2019, Australia exported to India $830k worth of table grapes, $352k apples and pears and $180k summer fruit.

In addition to this, Indian government also approved phosphine fumigation of malting barley. Fumigation using phosphine will save industry up to $10 per tonne exported compared to treatment with methyl bromide. There has been growth in the consumption of beer in India and Australia is known worldwide for its high-quality malting barley. The Indian malt market is estimated at 500,000 tonnes, worth over $100 million dollars, and it is anticipated Australia could gain a fair proportion of that market in 2021.

Read more at Australian Government Media

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AgTech Investments

Yamaha Motor Ventures invest AUD $11 million into Australian AgTech, The Yield

The Yield Technology Solutions (“The Yield”), a leading Australian agricultural technology company, received investment of AUD $11 million, led by Yamaha Motor Ventures. Yamaha Motor Ventures is the strategic business development and investment arm of global technology organisation, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. The Yield is developing its proprietary digital application providing microclimate data and predictive insights to support critical production decisions for large commercial growers in the specialty crops industry.

“The Yield is poised to be The Climate Corp of horticulture and we look forward to supporting the team’s strategic plan to scale its data-driven solution to the global specialty crop market.”

Yamaha Motor Ventures 

The Yield works closely with produce growers to design their products and committed to solving real challenges – at farm level and throughout the food chain. They are on a mission to transform food and farming practices by building secure, scalable digital technology. The Yield’s Sensing+ combines sensors and analytics to provide information and predictions in easy-to-use apps that help large commercial growers make important on-farm decisions like when to irrigate, feed, plant, protect and harvest.

Read more at The Yield

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Uncategorized

A2 Milk: attempts to premiumize the once-commoditized product

Conventional milk contains two main types of beta-casein protein, A1 and A2; the former is believed by many consumers and health care professionals to affect digestive health and possibly cause heart diseases and diabetes. This is where a2 Milk attempts to premiumize its brand. Australia-based The a2 Milk Co. Ltd. engages in the commercialization of A1 protein-free milk and related products. In order to do so, the company starts with specially selected cow that are not affected by the natural genetic mutation leading to the production of milk containing A1 proteins.

According to management, a2 Milk captures the leading value share of 6.4% in the fast-growing Chinese infant nutrition market. At the same time, a2 Milk has become the top premium milk brand in Australia with an 11.2% value share. As of fiscal 2019, the company had approximately 16,000 stores (up 64% year over year) for distribution in China and 13,000 (up 161% year over year) in the U.S.

Read more at GuruFocus

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Uncategorized

European vegetable producers are asking to open the Russian market for export

The Association of European Fruit and Vegetable Manufacturers (Eucofel) called on the European Commission to open export to the Russian market. An open letter asking to resume dialogue with Russia was signed by representatives of the fruit and vegetable sector of Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Portugal. In addition, producers of fruits and vegetables are asked to introduce temporary support measures for producers, which would guarantee an adequate level of product prices, restore market balance and eliminate violations.

Now Russian counter-sanctions, restricting the supply of certain types of agricultural products from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Norway, Albania, Montenegro, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Ukraine, apply to almost all types of vegetables and fruits, with the exception of potato, onion, pea and corn, as well as frozen and dried vegetables imported for the production of baby food.

Read more at Potato System

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Uncategorized

Natural alternatives to plastic – trays made from sugarcane pulp

Baggase trays, a natural alternative to plastic trays are made from sugarcane pulp, also known as bagasse. These trays are certified home compostable to Australian and European standards. The tray can take shrink wrap and flow wrap and it can also be heat-sealed which means using much less plastic for sealing. Biopak, the company behind this innovative product, developed them in close consultation with fresh produce growers and packers. There are a lot of market forces in play for the development of these trays which includes sustainability targets and legislative changes but the biggest one is consumer attitude, now more than ever, consumers are looking for more sustainable choices.

Sugarcane pulp, the raw material for manufacturing of baggage trays, is derived from sugarcane. It is a by-product of sugar manufacturing, so it’s primarily a use of waste product to make something new and sustainable from it. The sugarcane pulp is pressed under high pressure with steam so it gets a very tight surface making it moisture repellent and it can be used in both chill and ambient environments, it can be frozen, oven-heated and microwaved.

Read more at FreshPlaza

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Uncategorized

No, Camels’ Milk Isn’t Vegan

That camels’ milk is suitable for vegans isn’t the only absurd claim the industry makes. It often touts environmental credentials, too. Like all animals, camels have to be impregnated and give birth for their bodies to produce milk. The dromedary camels used in Australia’s dairy industry have a lactation period of around 18 months, and most of their milk is produced during the first seven months of lactation. The industry tears babies away from their mothers in order to steal and sell the milk nature intended for them. Camels can’t have babies as frequently as cows used for dairy production do, so the industry needs a “rigorous turnover of animals” to remain profitable. Anyone looking to sip on something that’s actually cruelty-free, kinder to the environment, and better for our health should ditch all dairy products and instead try the many plant-based milks available at all supermarkets.

Read more at PeTA Australia