Kellogers Konnect, August 2020

Welcome to the August edition of Kelloggers Konnect!

The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme is celebrating its 41st birthday this year and we’re proud to shout out that we’ve successfully delivered over 900 participants through the programme since 1979.

And the great news is that we’re not stopping there. We are gearing up to expand the Kellogg Programme with the introduction of Kellogg regional courses starting in early 2021 – more on that to come in this newsletter.

Although it’s been a challenging year we’ve remained flexible as we continue to adapt our Kellogg course dates around the recent Covid19 lockdowns. Needless to say, we are pleased to now be back on track with the Kellogg Courses for 2020 and 2021.

So without further delay – read on to find out what’s happening with our Kellogg programme and alumni activities:

As we’re sure you already know, Rural Leaders also deliver the Nuffield NZ Farming Scholarship Programme. If you’re interested in keeping up with what’s happening with our Nuffield Alumni click here

If you have any questions about the Kellogg programme or you’d like more information about the Kellogg Northland course in early 2021 please contact us at programmes@ruralleaders.co.nz.

Kellogg course updates

We are pleased to now be back on track with our Kellogg Course dates for 2020, following the Covid19 lockdowns. Phase 2 for Kellogg Course 1 is scheduled to go ahead between 14 – 18 September in Wellington. Phase 1 for Kellogg Course 2 will start on 26 August – 3 September in Lincoln (Canterbury).

Click here to check out the remaining course dates for the 2020 Kellogg Programmes.

Applications open now for the first
2021 Kellogg intake

Do you know of anyone in your networks who is passionate about developing their leadership style, growing their networks and contributing to their community, business and Industry? 

If you do have someone in mind, make sure you encourage them to take the next step in their development and apply to do a Kellogg in 2021.

Please forward this link (https://ruralleaders.co.nz/application-kellogg) on to potential candidates who would like to know more about the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme and how they can take the next step in becoming a leader of change in their industry.

Applications for Course 1 in 2021 close on Monday, 19 October 2020.

2021 Kellogg Courses

Course 1 – 26 January – 7 July 2021
Course 2 – 22 June – 25 November 2021

Kellogg Northland course to launch February 2021

Applications open now!

NZTE Funding assistance for Kellogg Applicants

Our partners...

We are pleased to acknowledge LIC as Rural Leader’s new Programme Partner and the re-signing of a three year agreement with our supporting partner GlobalHQ.

Read the full article >>

Kelloggers in the news

Siobhan O’Malley & Wayne Langford – Meat the Need

In our last newsletter we featured the work Siobhan O’Malley and Wayne Langford have been doing with their new charitable venture ‘Meat the Need’.  Tune in to this podcast where Siobhan and Wayne talk about how and why they got started on the ‘Meat the Need’ charity concept. To find out more about Meat the

Read More »

Anna Nelson’s work for King Country River Care Group

Anna Nelson, 2016 Kellogger, is currently working as the Co-ordinator for King Country River Care Group. Anna recently featured on Sarah’s Country where she talked about the work she has been doing for the King Country River Care Group who have been awarded an $844K grant to support clean waterways in the King Country. Click

Read More »

Nigel Woodhead : Young Leaders Vision

Nigel Woodhead completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership programme in 2019 and that same year, sat at the most sought-after strategy table in NZAg – the Primary Sector Council. The young Otago farmer reflects on his leadership journey so far. This article appeared in the June 2020 edition of ‘The Farmlander.’ Click here to read the full article on page 20.

Read More »

Kellogers Konnect, May 2020

We hope that you are all safe and managing well during these extraordinary times. In this newsletter we’re pleased to bring you the latest updates from NZ Rural Leaders as follows: 

The Rural Leaders’ team are working remotely and ensuring communications with our participants, alumni and suppliers as we respond to ‘sliding’ programme dates. Tamney and Lisa are happy to help with any enquires you have regarding the Kellogg Programme at Programmes@ruralleaders.co.nz

We’re excited to continue delivering future leaders through the Kellogg programme, as we recognise that strong leadership at every level will be needed over the next 12-18 months and beyond. 

Rural Leaders welcomes new CEO – Chris Parsons and new Trustee – Kate Scott

We are pleased to announce that Chris Parsons joined us on Monday, 4 May as our new CEO and we welcomed
Kate Scott (2018 Nuffield Scholar) as a new Trustee on the NZ Rural Leader’s Board.

Click here to read the full post >>

Keep up to date with Kellogg 2020 course dates

We are operating a ‘sliding schedule’ of dates for this year’s Kellogg programme as New Zealand moves from Level 2 to Level 1 as follows:


  • Course 41, Phase 1 was completed in January. Phase 2, originally scheduled in April and has been delayed until later this year (dates to be advised). Phase 3 completion and graduation will be held in Lincoln in November.
  • Course 42 was planned to start in June. Applications have been received and selections made. The start of this programme has been postponed until late August.
  • Course 43 will begin in January 2021. Applications open shortly so do think about your networks and direct them to the website to apply.

Our New Programme Partner – Rabobank, and more…


Register Now!

Nuffield Webinar series – 2019 presenting Scholars

This week you will have received an invite to join the Nuffield webinar series where our 2019 Nuffield Scholars will be presenting their research findings, following the postponement of the Nuffield Conference where our scholars were originally due to present.

Click here to register for the weekly webinar series which commences on Tuesday, 19th May.

Be sure to register for the webinar series, and join us in supporting fellow Rural Leaders alumni who will be presenting virtually for the first time.

19 May 2020

26 May 2020

2 June 2020

Hamish Murray, 2019 Nuffield Scholar
Hamish Marr, Nuffield Schoilar 2019
Ben Hancock, 2019 Nuffield New Zealand Scholar

Kelloggers in the news

Meat The Need NZ

Wayne Langford and Siobhan O’Malley have just launched their new charity that allows farmers to donate fresh meat to help feed New Zealand’s most vulnerable.
Wayne joined Sarah Perriam on Sarah’s Country recently to talk about their latest venture ‘Meat The Need NZ.’

Read More »

Projection of beef forward marketing; building partnerships between dairy farmer and beef finishers.

Executive Summary

It is time for the dairy industry to stop sweeping the bobby calf issue under the carpet. Approximately 2 million calves are surplus to dairy requirements intended for human consumption and pet food (MPI, 2015). The bobby calf numbers are trending upwards since 2000 and is causing a lot of welfare concerns from animal activists.

I believe there is significent potential for the bobby calf to be reared as quality beef, beef farmers are struggling to source good quality calves that will finish with a profitable value, calf rearers are vulnerable within the markets volatility.  Globally beef demand is rising, and Its becoming more harder for beef finishers to purchase quality young stock to carry through. I put together a questionnaire and had a reply from 30 dairy farmers. The dairy farmers are referring the issue to being to hard and to much risk.

The following was researched

  • How to create a pathway to reduce significant numbers slaughtered at 4 days old in New Zealand.
  • History, Driving force and building trust to form relationships and successful businesses.
  • Dairy beef genetic solutions for quality milk production, ease of calving traits, high carcase weights and quality marbeling.
  • The new generation beef , the dairy- origin steer slaughtered at 10 -12 months.
  • Forward marketing beef agreements, connecting producer, rearer and finisher with marginal prices to allow profitability, build incentives to share risks and gains throughout the production line till processing.

I have considered the relevance of all factors and there is an opportunity  for a beef finisher to provide to order with a dairy farmer and a contracted calf rearer.  Building relationship with incentives along the production line, the calf to be sold at a margin price to the calf rearer at 10 days old, the calf rearer to sell onto the beef finisher at agreed marginal price at agreed weight. Below or under weight the price will differ, this embeds management procedures throughout till finishing.  At finishing every share holder will receive a percentage of the carcase.

I believe zero bobby farm systems are achievable with careful thought and planning into genetics, a focus towards building relationships.  However there may still be a small percentage of bobby calves amongst our country.

 “An increasing proportion of our beef is coming from the dairy industry and there is a growing demand coming from Asia where beef is prepared and consumed in ways that are different to our traditional markets,” Nicola schreurs – Massey University.

Key recommendations

  • A mutual support platform, engaging individual dairy and beef interests.
  • Online auctions with forward marketing beef agreements
  • Rearing calves for profit – An online platform to connect contracted calf rearers with farmers


Projection of beef forward marketing; building partnerships between dairy farmer and beef finishers

Kellogg promotional content

Kia ora!

We’re so pleased to have you promote the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme through your networks either as a sponsor or an industry partner.

We appreciate you’re busy so this page has everything you need to share about the programme.

Copy and paste the text from sections below to share on your social media channels and eDMs.

We will be posting content on our social media profiles within the following weeks to attract more applicants. Your support with these is always appreciated!

The Kellogg team

Applications for the next Kellogg Course in June 2020 close on Monday, 16 March 2020. Don’t miss out. Apply now!

With only FOUR days to go until applications close, now is a great a time to take that step and jump in and do a Kellogg.

By empowering and upskilling yourself, you are not only ticking the personal and professional development box but that of growth for your business, the sector and the wider primary industries.

Apply now! https://ruralleaders.co.nz/interest-form-kellogg/


To request a copy of our brand guidelines please email us on programmes@ruralleaders.co.nz

If you feature the Kellogg logo on your website or have it stored on file. Please make sure it is our most recent version:

The Circular Economy of Glass Packaging for the New Zealand Wine Industry and the Impact of a possible Container Deposit Scheme.

Executive Summary

Glass recycling is the perfect example of the circular economy in action, right here in New Zealand.

It is becoming increasingly obvious, that to retain New Zealand’s prized clean green image and for our primary sector to remain competitive, a circular economy is an important part of our strategy.  The success of a circular economy of glass depends upon intelligent supply chain management to ensure sustainable customer demand. 

“A circular economy is a systematic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources”(MacArthur, 2018). 

Glass is the most sustainable package on earth and is the best example of the circular economy in action in New Zealand because,

  • It is infinitely recyclable and is made purely from raw natural ingredients
  • Over a tonne of natural resources are saved for every tonne of glass recycled
  • Every tonne of glass recycled saves approximately 670kg of CO2 over virgin materials

Recovery and reuse of glass contributes to a low emissions economy, with the use of recovered glass in manufacturing. This is because recycled glass can be melted at a lower temperature than virgin materials so consequently requires less energy. For every 10% of cullet used in the manufacturing process, O-I can achieve a 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

On average, a wine bottle is made from 67% recycled content manufactured at O-I New Zealand. The availability of recycled content primarily depends on our country’s waste collection infrastructure.  The existing voluntary product stewardship scheme for glass containers managed by the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF) is working very effectively, and is on track to meet a recycling rate of 82% by 2024. The GPF is a collaboratively designed circular economy for glass, returning cullet to O-I furnaces through a network of collection hubs, services and community facilities in order to ensure the circular benefits of glass are harnessed again and again.

In the circular economy of glass we refer to closed loop application, where we all play a part in helping a glass bottle is recycled back into a new glass bottle. There are sound economic and environmental incentives for O-I to support the recovery of high value glass and should be well understood the significance O-I have in driving the circular economy. Without a manufacturing plant with a commitment to cutting carbon reduction, using high portions of recycled content, we could not have a circular economy.  A majority of the New Zealand wine bottle supply chain of glass starts, and ends at O-I.

It is important to understand the glass recovery supply chain and the role it has within the circular economy design for glass.  To date, there are two glass recovery methods;

  1. Glass separate recovery – high value cullet
  2. Co-mingled glass recovery (problematic to the supply chain) – more complex and lower quality cullet

The cost and time it takes to separate, colour sort, grind and beneficiate the glass from co-mingled collections adds significant complexity and cost to the glass recovery system. Reduced quality glass recovery through co-mingling, can still be used with no environmental degradation for sport turfs, golf bunkers and base course for roads; however cannot ever be returned back to the glass lifecycle and therefore represents a break in the circular economy of glass.  To sustain a circular economy, Auckland council should cease co-mingling glass. 

The Ministry for the Environment has a consultation process on priority product guidelines (Ministry for the Environment, 2019) which included all beverage packaging, including glass.  Before stage one of the consultation had closed,  Minister Sage further announced work toward developing a Container Return Scheme (CRS) through a Waste Minimisation Fund application project managed by Auckland and Marlborough District council on 25th of September. The list of representatives on the working group, does not include New Zealand’s only cullet purchaser.

The basic principle of a Container Deposit Scheme is that the consumer pays a deposit at the point of purchase, and the deposit is refunded when the consumer returns the empty container.

This report highlights the Minister have not considered the market demand for glass and the impact an influx of extra glass would have on the supply chain.

Container deposit schemes are not supported by the New Zealand wine industry, or those involved in the glass recovery process, because they are expensive, are only one type of capture system for glass, can create recycling inconvenience for ratepayers, are not circular in nature, and are a particularly challenging solution for the hospitality sector. Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine region producing 77% of the total wine production. “Wine Marlborough supported the introduction of circular waste reduction policies where they meet the criteria under the Waste Minimisation Act; yet in the case of glass we believe those criteria are not met” is cited in their submission to the proposed priority products and priority stewardship scheme guidelines. “Wine Marlborough recommend continuation of the current voluntary scheme with government support for investing in further infrastructure”.

This research concludes that there is little supporting evidence that a container deposit scheme will increase overall glass packaging recycling rates, nor provide the recyclate needed to drive a circular economy anywhere in the world. 

The countries that have the best glass recovery rates in the world do not operate a container deposit scheme (Lee, Bell, Garcia, Lee, & Harding, 2019) indicating CDS is not the best solution to increase glass recovery rates. Denmark, Sweden and Norway are exemplar countries that have container deposit schemes, which exclude glass.   

In order to maintain a circular economy for glass within the New Zealand wine industry, CDS should exclude glass.  A circular economy is not possible without strong collaboration with all glass stakeholders and it is evident this has not happened yet with CDS. Should CDS progress, I urge the Ministry for the Environment to better consolidate the glass recovery process with O-I.

New Zealand would benefit from an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme around material flow of a specific product; in this instance glass.  The findings from my industry survey show the wine industry has expressed a keen interest to make this mandatory. This is expected to fast track GPF glass recovery efficiencies and position us as world leaders in introducing the circular economy within glass.


The Circular Economy of Glass Packaging for the New Zealand Wine Industry and the Impact of a possible Container Deposit Scheme.


ECONOMIC COMPLEXITY AND THE NEW ZEALAND WINE INDUSTRY Implications for Government Policy in the Primary Sector

Executive Summary

New Zealand’s primary sector is facing uncertainty from all angles, but GDP figures indicate the country’s economy is performing well.
Herein lies a gap between traditional measures of economic performance and the country’s economic resilience. An alternative measure based on Economic Complexity (EC) principles is applied to New Zealand and its implications for the primary sector are discussed.
EC can uncover causal links between economic performance and resilience where traditional methods appear to fail.
Five key recommendations are made in relation to New Zealand’s primary sector and wine industry: Adopt complexity analysis in policy making; Make industry network gaps transparent; Establish knowledge networks; Structure industry knowledge and Invest in R&D early.

Economic Complexity and the New Zealand wine industry



Kelloggers Konnect

Welcome to our latest edition of Kelloggers Konnect, which we hope will help to keep you updated on our latest operational activities, Kellogg Course reports and programmes, news and upcoming events.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Kelloggers Konnect and on behalf of the staff and the Trustees we wish all Alumni and Investing Partners a great Christmas and New Year!

The Team at Rural Leaders

A Quarterly Update from the GM

NZ Rural Leadership Trust NZRLT

Anne Hindson, General Manager Rural Leaders

In this December update, Anne provides a snapshot of the Rural Leaders (NZRLT) activities for the last quarter.

Read Anne’s full update here.

Anne Hindson
General Manager

Kellogg Course 39 & 40 – Reports

We’ve had another great year with 48 new scholars graduating from our Kellogg Leadership Programmes – Course 39 in July 2019 and Course 40 in November 2019.

We’d now like to present for your reading, our Kellogger’s reports which include a wide  range of research topics affecting farmers both behind and beyond the farm gate.

Course 40 Reports

Scott Andrew
Wood flows of the eastern southern North Island: 2019-2028

Shaun Back
Key factors in developing a culture of high performance with a senior management team in large scale dairy organisations

Nicky Barton
Old dogs, new tricks: An exploration of age & its influence on health & safety in NZ’s primary sector

Kylie Brewer
Do current extension methods cater for farmers with dyslexia

Jamie Callahan
Improving our on-farm health and safety culture in rural NZ

Isabelle Crawshaw
Using ‘meat for kids’ as a vehicle to enhancing children’s knowledge about agriculture

Jonny Dingle     
Boardroom to break-fence: pursuing a rural professional career while concurrently having a farming business interest

Adam Duker 
How can rural professionals be more effective in this time of transformational change?

Anna Fenemor 
Understanding what drives youth perspective to make radical change in agriculture

Luke Futter
Integrating pasture raised egg production into an existing farming business: A business plan

Jason Griffin   
Breeder Finisher Collaboration

Frankie Hore     
Wool image: Being heard in the post-truth era

Caroline Letham
Preventative measures to combat food fraud and actively protect our NZ Brand

Mike Murphy
Grower’s role in promoting the value of NZ kiwifruit: Mechanisms which encourage the use of good practice to create a positive identity for social license to operate

Lisa Portas         
Farmer storytelling: Navigating our narrative

Andrew Savage
Genetic gain opportunities. A trans-Tasman comparison

Katie Vickers     
Putting the food back into food: What will it take for our primary industry to produce nutrient-dense food

Course 39 Reports

Announcing Course 41 – 2020 new Kelloggers

The New Year will start with another bang, as we bring the start of our next Kellogg Leadership Programme, Course 41 which is due to start on 21st January 2020.  And we are pleased to announce our new Kelloggers who have been selected for this programme:

Alex Ashe
Oscar Beattie
Luke Beehre
Keegan Blignaut
Sophie Davison

Catherine Dickson
Kate Downie-Melrose
Clare Easton
Annie Fleming
Helen France

Julia Galwey
Able Hansen
Melissa King
Juliette Maitland
Erin McIlmurray

Brent Miller
Charlotte Montgomery
Graeme  Peter
Anna Rathe
Matt Redmond

Richard Ridd
Sam Shergold
Sarah Watson


Applications open for Course 42 – 2020 Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme

Applications are now open for Kellogg Course 42 which starts in mid June 2020. Remember to shoulder tap and encourage talented agri-professionals to apply!

If you know of anyone who would like to apply for Course 42, be sure to forward on our Registration of Interest Form to them.

Applications close : 16 March 2020

Special Kellogg rate for International Agribusiness Summit

Pay only $320 (exc GST) for a great saving and organise a cohort reunion.

In our last Summit update we let you know that the first 100 Kelloggers to register for the Summit before 31 January 2020 will only pay $320 exc gst for their Summit ticket (that’s a savings of $65).  This offer is limited so make sure you hurry and register soon at https://www.nuffield2020.com/agribusiness-summit-registration. To take advantage of this offer remember to use your ID Code KELLOGG when you register.

We can also confirm that the venue for the Kellogg networking function on the Sunday evening before the Summit will be held between 5 – 7pm at a Central City venue. We will provide more details on the venue in the New Year. 

So come join us for a fun two days of networking, discussion and debate. Remember to also spread the word to your Kellogg cohort.

If you have questions about registering for the Summit or the Cocktail Function and Networking event get in touch with us at programmes@ruralleaders.co.nz.

Kelloggers in the News

Recently the following  Kellogg Scholars Kate Taylor and Alice Rule featured in the news for their achievements and research work.

Click on their photos to read the media articles.

Kate Taylor

Kate Taylor

Kate was recently named the Rural Champion in the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards 2019 in October, following being elected to represent the Aramoana-Ruahine Ward on the Central Hawke’s  Bay District Council.  

Alice Rule

Alice Rule

Alice who is one of our most recent Kellogg graduates and an emerging young leader in sustainability focused her research project around the circular economy of glass in the New Zealand wine industry. Through her work, she hopes to drive awareness about using glass made in New Zealand in the wine industry.

‘Kelloggers’ – 50% of new Nuffield Scholars

Nuffield Scholars 2020

We were delighted to announce in November our 2020 Scholars. Three of the new scholars Tracy Brown, Phil Weir and Edward Pinckney all previously completed the Kellogg programme. This is a great next step for the three ‘hands on’ farmers. 

Read the Scholar bios here.

Phil Weir, Tracy Brown  & Edward Pinckney are the 3 scholars featured to the left of this photo at the Nuffield Awards Ceremony

2020 NZ Rural Leaders Calendar of Events

International Market Study Opportunity
Expressions of Interest

NZ Apples & Pears and Massey Business School are calling for expressions of interest for the Executive International Horticultural Immersion Program (Exec IHIP) which is scheduled to run from 25th Jan to 7th Feb 2020.  The programme provides emerging leaders, executives, and growers the opportunity to follow the selected horticultural value chains into key European markets. 

Click here for more details about the programme or contact Erin Simpson erin@applesandpears.nz , Hamish Gow h.r.gow@massey.ac.nz and Emma Boase e.boase@massey.ac.nz for more information regarding the program.

Volunteer to host an Open Farm Day

The first nationwide, Open Farms day event is on 1 March 2020. Open Farms is looking for 100 farms around the country to host an open farm day for urban Kiwis. Participation is open to farmers from all sectors – sheep and beef, dairy, horticulture and arable etc. 

This is an opportunity for Kiwi farmers to proudly tell their story, in their own way, directly to our urban customers and cousins and not filtered through the media.  To see what is required to host and sign up visit www.openfarms.co.nz.

Do current extension methods cater for farmers with dyslexia?

Executive Summary

Farming has always been seen as a career for those who were never any good academically, often ridiculed as ‘dumb ‘many left school as soon as they were able and went farming. Once they became farmers they began to excel, as farming is a practical and hands on career which requires problem solving, a love of the land and little reading and writing. To gain insights on what it is like to be farming with dyslexia I undertook several interviews with farmers throughout New Zealand who were willing to share their story. From these interviews I found that most of them didn’t see their dyslexia as a disadvantage but rather an advantage as it enabled them to think differently. Many had found ways to help overcome their dyslexia. There were key themes which came out of the interviews, the main one being that the agricultural sector needs to acknowledge that dyslexia is an issue within the sector, and secondly that dyslexic people are often more creative, entrepreneurial and can see the bigger picture. Often many have the ability to look at risks and mitigate these. All those I interviewed did not see their dyslexia as a bad thing.

Many of us who work in the agricultural industry will know farmers with dyslexia. Many of whom have tried to hide it rather than embrace it. Often these are intelligent individuals, but they struggle with reading and writing and therefore could be classed as a ‘functional dyslexic’ but some dyslexics are ‘literate dyslexic’s and will persevere with reading and writing.  As a sector we need to change the way they can and do receive information and we now have the technology available to do this.

The research provides the following broad conclusions:

  • Reduce the stigma of dyslexia in the agricultural industry by having ambassadors for dyslexia and mentors to assist other farmers with dyslexia
  • Conduct research to determine the extent of dyslexia within the agricultural sector
  • Develop workshops for rural professionals to educate them about the basics of dyslexia, and how they may be able to better assist their dyslexic clients
  • Develop extension resources in dyslexic font
  • Develop more podcasts and videos on popular extension topics which don’t require dyslexic farmers to have to read to gain the information
  • Encourage Regional Council’s to provide assistance with compliance paperwork such as drop in days or help desk staff to help dyslexic farmers to complete paperwork required

I acknowledge that it isn’t going to be easy for the sector to make the changes required, as for too long this has been a topic which has been almost hidden but at the same time it is acknowledged that many farmers are dyslexic. A change in mindset will take some years to create but I believe we can do this by having an ambassador or ambassadors for dyslexia in the same way we have Doug Avery for rural mental health.

We are in both exciting and changing times in the sector. With increasing compliance and environmental changes being introduced and demands on farmers increasing, we will see some dyslexic farmers despairing and wondering how they will cope with the increase in paperwork which they already struggle with.

Dyslexia is the new stigma in the agricultural sector which needs to be broken. I hope this report helps to both challenge and change the mindset that dyslexia is something which should be embraced not ridiculed. I would love to work in this space and help bring about change in the agricultural sector and make it easier for the next generation of dyslexic farmers coming through.

Do current extension methods cater for farmers with dyslexia?



Putting the food back into food: What will it take for our primary industry to produce nutrient-dense food?

Executive Summary

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates. The idea of food-as-medicine has been around for many years. It is not until recently that consumers are leading the charge, prioritising products and ingredients that are novel, nutritious, locally sourced and ethically produced.

In both a local and global context, primary industries are facing challenges with changes in consumer behaviour. These are often strongly driven by social media trends and awareness of environmental factors involved in the methods of growth and production of food, leading to shifting food purchasing trends. The New Zealand primary sector is no different to other global producers, however an increase in the focus by the public on ‘food-as-medicine’ is creating an opportunity for New Zealand producers to fill a potential gap in the market.

Increasing demand for nutritious, safe and healthy food grown in an ‘environmentally friendly’ way has become ever more prevalent. It is well documented there is a continued and alarming rate of increase in preventable diseases, especially of the non-communicable diseases (NCD) type such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. This trend allied with potentially catastrophic pressures on our environment, especially in the form of climate change, gives rise to a combination of major challenges for society as a whole but especially for agriculture and medicine globally.

New Zealand is in a position to take advantage of this situation and create strong markets due to its size, relatively highly educated (by global standards) agricultural workforce, and innate ability to innovate rapidly. It can add value to its export (and domestic) markets by way of capitalising on the astonishing lack of focus that has so far been paid to the nutrient content of food by consumers and producers. This will empower farmers to become educated and focussed on healing, enhancing and protecting the soil from which they derive their livelihood. It will also pass on a worthwhile heritage to future generations, while simultaneously positioning itself as a global leader in premium nutrient-dense food production.

My aim for this commentary is to create a discussion piece for our industry leaders and to help the primary sector develop a potential common goal or value proposition. I want to challenge our thinking about how we tackle the changes that are facing our industry.

This research uses a combination of a literature review and qualitative analysis. This allowed me to apply critical thinking, draw key themes and identify areas of key importance.

From this research, my recommendations include:

  • Market a strong value proposition for our primary industry and gain support from the government, to ensure we have economic viability
  • Facilitate better education for our growers, farmers and our own consumers, so they have the ability or option to produce and/or consume nutritionally dense food
  • Create better collaboration between leaders not only within the primary industry, but across the nation
  • Implementation of soil measurement and consistent production standards so that we are genuinely producing nutrient-dense food

More work is required to understand how soon testing of our food will be economically and practically viable, thereby changing the economic landscape for our producers. The inevitable increase in value of what they produce will be reflected in what extra profit will accrue from the production of nutritionally dense food – not the volume. This will simultaneously bring enormous quantifiable benefit for the environment.

With change comes opportunity, and challenges, to evolve our market strategy and to feed our families and the world with more nutritious food. Growth occurs at the border of challenge and support.


Putting the food back into food: What will it take for our primary industry to produce nutrient-dense food?


Genetic gain opportunities: A trans-Tasman comparison.

Executive Summary

The story of the herd improvement industry in New Zealand is the story of a long history of great innovation, on a scale not replicated anywhere else.  A complex industry of science, human resources and innovation, dairy farmers wherever you go are a resourceful bunch.  They are plying their trade across many facets such as animal science, animal welfare, human resources, soil science, engineering, finance just to name a few.  Priorities over different areas of the farming business shift over time depicted by financial pressures, available resources, environmental pressures and in more recent times animal and environmental practices which are being called into question.  The purpose of this project is to try and dig deeper into some of the conversations I come across every day during the course of my work on Tasmanian dairy farms.  What is the difference between New Zealand and Tasmania?  With increased reliance on grain inputs in Australia, how does New Zealand produce what they do on just grass?   “They have better grass”  “It just grows better over there”, “Its just different”  “it’s a more even growing season”.   I wanted to find out more about these off the cuff comments, and see just how different the two industries are, from a climatic and environmental point of view, and at the core of the dairy business, the dairy herd. 

Comparing Tasmania to the West Coast, Tasman, Marlborough region, on the same latitude line, my research suggested the two areas are very similar in climate, annual rainfall volumes and temperatures, and should have reasonably similar opportunities to grow good quality grass.  Both have similar numbers of herds, and herd sizes.  Tasmania features slightly higher in per cow production, but has narrower margins.  Both regions have access to good cow genetics from around the world. 

Singling out herd improvement – one of the biggest drivers of New Zealand dairy production gains over time, I carried out a survey of 37 dairy farmers in Tasmania to find out what is influencing the breeding, and how they are reacting to the operating environment in Tasmania.   The survey population was a mixture of farm sizes and breed of cow.    I looked at the answers and attempted to seek out any correlations.

The stand out opportunity is the way dairy genetics are managed.  The lack of herd testing uptake is evident in Tasmanian herds when compared to their New Zealand counterparts, not only that, those that do herd test don’t have easy access to software that makes cow selection on performance simple and accurate.   As a direct result of the small numbers of farmers herd testing, Datagene, Australia’s dairy genetics evaluation body has placed an increased reliance on predicting genetic merit through DNA testing, as opposed to herd test data which would be the case in New Zealand.   Yes, accelerating the opportunity of genetic gain by not having to wait considerable time for bulls daughters to hit the dairy herd for proving, but placing large weighting on a system which is less reliable than that of daughter proving data. 

My findings suggest there needs to be better education and more information from industry bodies around the financial benefits of herd testing, more so the implications of not herd testing.  Tight margins and cost cutting at the farm level are partly to blame, but the immediate monetary savings of not testing are well outweighed by the production losses bought about by losing genetic gain and efficiency.  A 70% uptake in the New Zealand region versus 30% in the Tasmanian region is a stark contrast.  From my experience, the benefits of herd testing in New Zealand have never been called into question, and in tight times become even more important.  Tools such as MINDA, New Zealand’s herd management system, and herd testing have been an integral part of the dairy farmers arsenal since herd testing was rolled out 110 years ago in 1909. 


  • As an industry – look at ways to increase herd testing uptake to enable targeted selection pressure on low performing animals
  • Further educate farmers and software providers the basics of sire selection indexes and daughter proven vs genomic proofs, heritability of traits vs environmental, and make visible the financial benefits of good genetics and selection pressure.
  • Streamline data on farm to record ancestry and increase outcrossing at an individual cow level


Genetic gain opportunities: A trans-Tasman comparison.