New Zealand: Local Quality Wheat Goes to Feed Animals


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Over the past years, the New Zealand Wheat industry has been looking at opportunities to grow the amount of milling Wheat consumed locally. There has been a decreased volume of milling Wheat over time. That particular grain has lost traction against other more attractive propositions, from growing feed Wheat which is a higher yielding, or feed barley for the animal industry.

The other factor contributing to the lack of milling Wheat grown in New Zealand is competition with Australia. In the North Island, in particular, about 90% of Wheat being milled was imported. In 2022, approximately 230,000 tons of milling Wheat was imported from Australia. Most of the Wheat eaten in New Zealand comes from Australia, where land is cheaper and more significant volumes can be grown. It is also cheaper for importers to transport grain from Australia to Auckland than getting grain from the South Island, where most of it is grown, said Alison Stewart (Chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research).

Another reason New Zealand Wheat goes to feed animals is because of the high-value dairy sector, and in some years, dairy farmers will pay Wheat growers more than mills will pay to provide food for people. We are struggling to get New Zealand milling Wheat production to exceed 100,000 tons, even though we’ve made progress in the last two seasons, we’d hit rock bottom in 2018 with just under 70,000 tons, said Ivan Lawrie, Arable Food Industry Council (AFIC) Chairman, and General Manager of Business Operations, Foundation for Arable Research.

The foundation conducted a market survey of almost 1,000 bread-buying Kiwis, (a study conducted before COVID-19). The survey identified that 51% of consumers would be happy to pay up to 50 cents more per loaf of bread if they had proof the bread was made with New Zealand-grown grains, and a further 13% indicated they would “maybe” pay up to 20 cents more. Therefore, collectively there was an indication that two-thirds of bread consumers in New Zealand would be happy to pay a few cents more per loaf if it was proven their bread was made with New Zealand Wheat. This slight increase would significantly affect the growers of milling Wheat in New Zealand.

Another recurring reason for the lack of use of New Zealand Wheat is the historical perception that New Zealand milling Wheat quality is not up to standard. While there were questions about the quality of milling Wheat in the past, the quality of imported milling Wheat is no longer perceived as good as it used to be.

On the other hand, genetics have advanced in New Zealand during the last two and a half decades to such an extent that some of local quality Wheat are stronger than the Australian imports and probably too intense for some of the mechanical dough processing used in New Zealand. So, it is can be counteracted with the development of excellent cultivars suited for New Zealand conditions.

New Zealand Wheat Output and Import

New Zealand farmers grow approximately 400,000 tons of Wheat every year. Kiwi farmers grow more grain per hectare than Australian growers because of better climatic conditions. The average yield for milling Wheat is 9-to-10 tons a hectare compared to 2-to-3 tons a hectare in Australia.

Generally, about 70 percent of the Wheat used in flour production in New Zealand is imported, mostly from Australia. According to AgFlow data, New Zealand imported 537,108 tons of Wheat from Australia in 2022. The USDA data shows that the country’s Wheat output and domestic consumption were 441,000 tons and 960,000 tons, respectively, in MY2021/2022.

Other sources: STUFF

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