Please note that everything mentioned here is in UAE time zone (-9 hours for NZT) so 8am in the UAE is 4pm here in New Zealand. Some of these events will be uploaded to Virtual Expo Dubai so you can watch later in your own time-zone.
The raise comes ahead of an intended public listing in early 2022 on the Catalist Public Market.
Focused on developing heat-tolerant cattle in tropical climates, TDG’s genetics are sold into markets throughout Asia, the USA and South America, improving animal welfare and helping the world’s hottest communities provide greater food and protein security.
Chair Tim Heeley says this is a great opportunity for New Zealanders to invest in a world-first genetic solution, originating from the Waikato.
“TDG is a technology-driven, growth business. Being a pioneering genetics company with a global perspective, coupled with a presence anchored in New Zealand, makes us a unique investment opportunity,” he says.
“We are predicting good interest from dairy farmers as well as the wider New Zealand ag community. The investment should also appeal to people looking to fund solutions to global food insecurity issues linked to climate change.”
The Ohaupo-based company started breeding tropical dairy genetics in 2008, with fourteen private investors to date – many of them New Zealand dairy farmers.
Now, TDG invites wholesale investors to come onboard, allowing access through a nominee investment vehicle with a minimum investment amount of $10,000.
Colin Magee, Catalist’s CEO says he is delighted to welcome Tropical Dairy Group to the exchange.
“It’s great to see TDG taking the next step in their growth journey by listing on a Catalist Private Market and we’re pleased we can help facilitate both capital raising and generating liquidity for their investors,” he says.
“We hope this initial offer will help with their goal of a public listing on our licensed stock exchange early next year – it’d mean anyone in New Zealand, not just wholesale investors, could buy shares in this unique investment opportunity.”
TDG announced earlier this year it has bred the world’s first team of Jersey bulls that all carry the dominant “Slick” gene – meaning daughters of these bulls are certain to exhibit heat tolerant traits. Cows with the Slick gene cope better in tropical climates, mitigating heat stress and improving milk production for countries with some of the world’s greatest deficits of protein.
To date, the Slick gene has been bred into Holsteins, Crossbreeds and Jerseys, leading to the TDG herd being the largest and most diverse slick-breeding herd in the world.
Following TDG’s planned 2022 public offering, investors will have the opportunity to trade TDG’s shares every six months, in a secondary market, on the Catalist exchange.
These companies point to a huge rise in the precision and convenience of farming in coming years.
O’Connell says farmers have already seen a first wave of technology in terms of labour-saving devices.
“The next wave of technology, and you’re seeing it already, is the stuff that actually brings new insights, measuring things that weren’t measured before, or at a greater level of detail than before.”
Expect also more innovation geared at solving pressing issues like labour and methane.
Automation is our labour-starved orchards is already being used but it’s yet to become commonplace.
“It’s going to be a gradual adjustment,” O’Connell says.
“I don’t think you’ll see robots coming in and replacing all workers in any farming system overnight. What you’ll start seeing is more automation used to maybe take the peak of picking requirements, to flatten that out … so that humans can follow afterwards and pick up the bulk.”
Darryn Keiller, WayBeyond’s chief executive, says his company only became possible with technological advances a few years ago.
Future farmers would be facing more demands around water, regulatory changes, food safety and now greenhouse gases. “So our role is to help them manage all that complexity”.
Keiller says New Zealand biotech and agriculture science is world-leading but it desperately needs more investment from the Government and venture capitalists.
“There’s just not enough funding here. Innovating in this space is expensive, especially if you want the reach to be global not just local.”
Few people would argue with the goal of creating $44b in added export value, least of all Professor Caroline Saunders, head of Lincoln University agribusiness and economic research unit.
“Historically New Zealand farming has tended to be a culture of low cost and the truth is that nothing from New Zealand should be low cost, it should be high value.”
Saunders’ team at Lincoln has been working on a tool which shows how much sub-groups in key markets are prepared to pay.
For instance, she says, zero carbon and more sugary kiwifruit sells much better than ordinary kiwifruit in Japan, winning much higher premiums even though it results in less fruit.
“I can see a shift in New Zealand agriculture – being pushed by the market but pulled by the regulations on water and greenhouse gas emissions – towards high value products that maybe we won’t produce as much but we will get a lot more money for.”
RETURN OF THE SHEEP
It used to be said that New Zealand lived off the sheep’s back. But that was before the development of synthetics.
Wool prices are now so low that until recently, it was hardly worth the cost of the shearer.
Climate change is, without doubt, the most significant risk for farming, and it’s putting an urgent focus on what farmers put in the air and water.
More than 80 per cent of New Zealand’s methane emissions comes from ruminant farm animals and methane makes up nearly half of all the country’s greenhouse gases. Thus, not charging farmers for their carbon has been controversial.
“If they get it, right it’ll be very helpful and it could actually result in meaningful emissions reductions without having horrific economic impacts. But if they get it wrong, it could be pretty messy.”
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
The wildcard for New Zealand’s future farming hand is what the consumer wants to eat.
And increasingly the tide is heading towards less red meat. The New Zealand meat industry’s position that world population growth isn’t slowing and there will be plenty of mouths to feed.
But Darryn Keiller thinks New Zealand ignores exploring meat substitutes at its peril.
“My personal opinion is that that’s a flawed strategy. That might work, say, for the next five years, but if people truly do their homework and look at what’s happening in the shift of dietary behaviour in the major markets, and the ascendency of cellular and plant based proteins … it’s massive.
“If we don’t get on that train, we’re going to be left behind.”
O’Connell is less convinced but says the very good science that New Zealanders develop around food systems could be an export on its own.
“Even if we don’t produce food from New Zealand that’s of that type, we can still produce the science that will help feed the world, even if the science is implemented in other parts of the world.”
We learnt a lot more about the Irish dairy landscape. This included a visit to the Teagasc robotic dairy farm. This is automating a significant amount of on-farm process. It’s driving down costs and the cows looked happy enough to me. They get to choose when they go to the milking shed and there, the robots get to work. Not a person in sight.
Driving much of this research is VistaMilk, the SRI Research Centre for precision-based dairy production and processing. The research programme has been designed to develop new, and advance existing electronic monitoring and actuation technologies to transform Ireland’s dairy sector into a global leader in sustainable agritech. It will specifically address pasture-based dairy production, improved processability and the generation of novel, higher-value-added products. In addition to the creation of new sensing and actuation paradigms, particular focus will be given to developing state-of-the-art analytical techniques applied to largescale, sensor data-sets delivered by advanced network and communication technologies.
The programme is supported by 28 industry partners. Through what
appears to be a strategy of highly-interconnected innovative scientific ventures
and disciplines, VistaMilk will develop and deploy scientific solutions,
informed by sophisticated data analytical approaches, to support Ireland’s dairy
It’s time for the New Zealand dairy sector to take note.
Ordinarily, I would leave it that. Not this time however. In order to engage more directly with the Irish agritech sector, we are looking at ways to deepen the connection. Next week, I am speaking to the team at DogPatch Labs in Dublin to test the case for a formal landing pad for New Zealand agritech companies seeking to enter the Irish market. The delegation visited DogPatch Labs on Friday and we were all impressed. Finistere Ventures, a Farm2050 partner, are based on-site, as are representatives from Irish agritech heavyweight, Alltech. I visited the facility last December during the AgTech Nexus Europe conference. Impressed then. Impressed now.
I’ll provide an update on next week’s talks. Ireland offers New Zealand agritech companies similar pastoral farming systems to those back home. Its dairy sector is expanding rapidly. It also offers a dual hemisphere opportunity to speed up R&D and in-market field trials. It’s an opportunity that we will seek to leverage through increased collaboration and cooperation.