Apollo Foods moves on to the second course – and is served a $2.9m helping from the PGF

Apollo Foods Limited, incorporated in 2013 and based in Hastings, has become one of the early beneficiaries of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) since its administrators were given new marching orders – or should we say serving orders?

Apollo Foods, at first blush, doesn’t seem desperately in need of a helping hand from taxpayers.

According to the New Zealand Food Innovation Network,

Job creation is already considerable – three employees have become 40 in only 18 months. Sales turnover, although domestic only, has grown rapidly to >$500K since launch in April 2018. Export interest is high from a range of markets, and all going well there may even be a container on the water before Christmas.

The article is undated and we are left to guess which Christmas has been mentioned.

Not long after its establishment, T&G Global, controlled by Germany’s BayWa, bought a half stake in the company in 2014 for $1 million before selling for an undisclosed sum in 2016.

Fonterra got a slice of the action two years ago when it invested an undisclosed sum in a new production line at a site capable of being used separately by both companies to produce dairy and fruit-based drinks.

The NZ Food Innovation Network site shows the company has not only learned how to find financial backing from corporate biggies like Fonterra and T&G Global.

It knows how to sniff out a publicly filled trough, too.

Operational investment has been big, with the capital investment circa. $20 million, supported by Callaghan Innovation from the project outset. 

The company has been nourished from the PGF, too.

Last year Apollo Foods was among a few Hawke’s Bay companies which were awarded more than $14 million from the fund.  Mind you, its portion of that particular feast was more like an appetiser – it amounted to $300,000 for a feasibility study into expansion of the facility.

At that time,  Parliamentary Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau said Hawke’s Bay had been earmarked as a priority region in terms of PGF investment to build on its farming and horticulture strengths, and provide employment opportunities and higher wages for locals.

When he announced a much bigger portion for Apollo Foods yesterday, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones declared the PGF will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-COVID-19 recovery

“ … by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits.”

This looks like a strong hint that money previously dished up from the PGF has failed to generate the promised jobs as fast as Jones would like.

Jones announced PGF funding of $7.5m for four projects “that will make a huge difference to regions recovering from the impacts of COVID-19.

  • $2.9 million for Apollo Foods Ltd in Hawke’s Bay for new technology and to upskill workers to increase productivity and capability.
  • $2.5 million for an upgrade to Raglan Wharf to increase berth numbers and improve access for commercial operators, recreational users, and customers visiting the retail and hospitality businesses that could operate there.
  • $1.86 million to redevelop the Westport waterfront with a pedestrian and cycle bridge from the town centre to the riverfront. This will provide greater access to another PGF-funded project, the Kawatiri Coastal trail, and will allow trail related businesses close access to the town centre.
  • $209,500 for Otago engineering firm Te Pari Products to buy equipment that will increase its capacity to supply the primary sector with quality livestock-handling equipment.

Yep, there are four projects on the list, so why have we focussed on Apollo Foods?

Because it was the first to be mentioned and (we confess) we don’t have Jones’ resources to closely examine every beneficiary.

Perhaps we should apply for a share of the lolly, to employ more staff to write about stuff thrown up by the Point of Order Trough Monitor.  

If you don’t benefit from DIY without having to jump consent hurdles, you might be in line for repurposed PGF slops

The way is being opened for householders to avoid council poohbahs and revenue grabbers. when they want to do a bit of do-it-yourself building work on their properties.  It is being opened, too, for the promoters of projects promising to quickly employ plenty of people to get their snouts into the Provincial Growth Fund.

Both announcements from the Beehive professed to be designed to keep the dole queues as short as possible and help the country’s recovery from Covid-19.

They vied for public attention alongside statements which –

  • Expressed New Zealand’s concerns with legislation in China relating to national security in Hong Kong;
  • Announced the theme for the 2020 Samoa Language Week; and
  • Declared that a programme to protect one of New Zealand’s most critically endangered birds is paying off after almost 40 years, with a record number of adult kakī/black stilt recently recorded living in the wild.

Continue reading “If you don’t benefit from DIY without having to jump consent hurdles, you might be in line for repurposed PGF slops”

Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help

NZ’s  dairy  industry  has  a   clear  role  to  play  as  one  of  the   country’s saviours in the  battle to recover  from the global impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic — even if there is  little evidence  that ministers  in the coalition government recognise  its  importance.

The industry, as  it has  done so  often  before,  will  just have to  do  it on  its own.

Luckily, the giant co-op,  Fonterra,   has  stabilised,  after racking up a  massive  $600m  loss  last year and there’s  a refreshed sense  of  where the  dairy industry  stands  in the  economy’s  hierarchy,  as  other pillars (tourism, international  education, air transport, construction)  tumble  over the  pandemic precipice.  Morale  at  the   grassroots  level  is  rising  again.

So  what’s  the  message    for  dairy  farmers as  the  2019-20 season  ends  and  they look ahead to  the next?   Batten  down  the  hatches  or  seek to  expand  production?

It’s  not  an  easy  one  for  many  Fonterra  suppliers, as  they move out  of a debilitating drought. But they have the  encouragement from  the  co-op  – the  payout  for the  season  just ending, though  at  the lower  end  of the range  earlier  signalled,  will  still be between  $7.10 and $7.30kg/MS.  That’s  above the  break-even point,  said  to be  around  $5.90.   Continue reading “Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help”

Here’s how more millions were being spent while the media spotlight was on the National leadership drama

On the National side of the political divide, the caucus yesterday voted to be led by a bloke reported to have  fantasised in his childhood about being elected vice-president, becoming president “upon the very unfortunate death of the then-President”, and proceeding to serve 13 consecutive terms.

The Daily Blog has drawn our attention to this fantasy, which Todd Muller – the new leader – included in his maiden speech in Parliament. 

The Daily Blog’s Martyn Bradbury then insists that National are going to lose the next election “because Jacinda is a phenomena” and no matter who led National the party would STILL be polling 30%!

Whether the promotion of Muller to the leadership will result in the political death of Simon Bridges remains to be seen, but yesterday was a good day for the government to announce something unpalatable – while the media’s preoccupations were with happenings in the National Party.

The government does not seem to have done this and its publicity machine released just a few statements – run-of-the-mill stuff, actually, except that millions of dollars of our money are involved.

But even on a quiet day for the Beehive Ballyhoo Brigade you can count on Shane Jones pushing to win some media space.

Continue reading “Here’s how more millions were being spent while the media spotlight was on the National leadership drama”

An upgrade for Ohakea, a new governance board for Stats NZ and an end (here’s hoping) to CAA bullying

 While the poll-axed Nats were feverishly engaged in leadership manoeuvres, the Government was spending, appointing and telling us about bullying – in one state agency, at least.

The biggest sum among the day’s announcements involved the Coalition Government’s approval of a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.

Defence Minister Ron Mark said the investment, to be made in three phases over five years, is part of the grandly named “Defence Estate Regeneration Programme”.

But there’s a strong hint not all of the $206m is a done deal – Cabinet approval will be sought for final project and funding arrangements for each phase.

Deeper down in the statement was mention of Budget 2020 providing $676.5 million of additional Defence Force operating funding and the announcement that $69.9 million (a not immodest sum) is planned for investment into the Defence Estate. Continue reading “An upgrade for Ohakea, a new governance board for Stats NZ and an end (here’s hoping) to CAA bullying”

Ministers are now dipping into the PGF to help causes they deem worthy – marae in this case – in the big cities

The Beehive Bugle Brigade was light on ballyhoo yesterday, perhaps bargaining on their braying being wasted on a media that became fixed on the prospect of a leadership blood-letting in the National Party.

Attorney-General David Parker announced the promotion of Environment Judge David Kirkpatrick, of Auckland, to take over from Judge Laurie Newhook as the Principal Environment Judge on July 8.

And (a joint statement) Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the latest beneficiaries of the programme to connect marae around the country to the internet.

But wait.  This statement drew our attention to ministers serving some of the $3 billion of slops in the Provincial Growth Fund trough to big-city folk  – some big-city folk, at least Continue reading “Ministers are now dipping into the PGF to help causes they deem worthy – marae in this case – in the big cities”

OMV Taranaki wins consents (but with robust conditions) to take vital step for NZ’s energy industry

Oil and gas company OMV Taranaki has won consents to undertake the drilling of up to 10 exploration and appraisal wells, as well as the associated discharges, within its petroleum exploration permit in the Maui Field in the Taranaki Basin.

This is  seen  as a  vital  step  for the  energy  industry  in NZ,  because  reserves  of  oil and  gas  could  run out  within 11  years  at  present  rates of  consumption.  And  with  the  economy  under the whip,  any  extension  of  those reserves   would come as a  welcome  fillip.

OMV  will be  aiming  to  build    on  its  success  in the  last drilling season   with  its  wildcat  well  Toutouwai-1, 50km  off the  Taranaki coast,   penetrating  several  layers of   hydrocarbons.   Because  of  the Covid-19 pandemic it  had to withdraw  from  further  work proving  up  the Toutouwai   discovery. Continue reading “OMV Taranaki wins consents (but with robust conditions) to take vital step for NZ’s energy industry”

Boris’s Covid strategy is simpler than you might think

It’s a bit early for a commission of inquiry into the UK’s Covid response but Parliament’s Science and Technology committee could not resist sharing some of its preliminary thoughts with PM Boris Johnson, by means of a letter and press release.

Coming from a government-dominated group, it was never going to be ‘J’accuse’, nor even a masterpiece of forensic dissection.  But it provides useful pointers to the politics of the crisis and the British government’s approach. Continue reading “Boris’s Covid strategy is simpler than you might think”

Why you shouldn’t put money on Peters being unhorsed over his bluntness on China

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has offended many of New Zealand’s China cognoscenti in trade and politics and raised fears that his bluntness will   provoke  the kind of  reaction  from China similar to that which it has applied  in its trade with  Australia .

Some reckon he is out of step with the PM. Others  have called for  him  to be sacked.

Those in the latter group may have other motives for their advice.   Point of Order’s inquiries, however, suggest that he and PM Jacinda Ardern are playing the old “good cop-bad cop” routine straight out of old Hollywood crime thrillers.

Peters beats up on Beijing and its ambassador here, Madame Wu Xi.  Ardern offers emollient expressions of everlasting sisterhood.

The message is clear, though,   both on Lambton Quay and the Chaoyang District, Beijing, home of China’s  foreign ministry. Continue reading “Why you shouldn’t put money on Peters being unhorsed over his bluntness on China”

Ministers press big business to pay bills promptly to help quicken the cash flows of smaller enterprises

One statement from the Beehive yesterday differed from the others, which highlighted government spending and investment initiatives – money for a Maori craft and tourism venture in Rotorua, an “investment” in New Zealand history and relief for drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers.

The exemption was intended to encourage a stronger flow of cash into small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from their big-business customers and clients.

The Ministers of Finance, Small Business, Commerce and Consumer Affairs have written to more than 40 “significant enterprises” and banking industry representatives to ask them to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector.

“We want 95 per cent of invoices paid within 10 working days. Once the impact of COVID19 arrived on our shores we directed all government agencies to bring forward the prompt payment target with immediate effect,” said Grant Robertson.

“Improving payment terms is a priority. Paying suppliers faster is an important way to unlock cash-flow and productivity benefits, which supports ongoing business sustainability and growth.

Good-oh – but why not 100 per cent? Continue reading “Ministers press big business to pay bills promptly to help quicken the cash flows of smaller enterprises”