Investors see promising signs of recovery in infant formula sales in China

After  a  rough  ride  since  Covid-19  struck, the New Zealand economy  is  in   better   shape   than might  have been  predicted  at the  onset  of the  pandemic.  Yet labour  shortages,  an energy crisis  in Europe  and  China, and  massive  inflationary  pressures suggest  that  the  passage  ahead   will  be  anything  but  smooth.

With  the  government abandoning  the  elimination  strategy  and  moving  towards  living  with  endemic  Covid, the  country  is adjusting  to  the  prospect  of  a  new  normal.  But  without  any  sign of  the  number of  cases  of the Delta  variant  diminishing, restrictions  may  persist  for  longer  than  might  have been  imagined  just  weeks  ago.

It’s  a  blow  to  industries  looking  to  inflows  of  workers  to ease  labour  shortages, particularly  in the  rural  regions,  which  last  season  sustained  the  economy  with  the  production of  commodities  that  were  in  relatively  tight  supply  in  world markets,  fetching excellent  returns. Continue reading “Investors see promising signs of recovery in infant formula sales in China”

Lift in commodity prices gives boost to the economy – here’s hoping we can keep on shipping our goods to market

New Zealand’s Covid-battered  economy  is  once  more sustained   by  its  primary  industries, as  international tourism languishes  and  earnings  from  its  international education arm are  all  but  invisible.

Despite  high  charges    for   shipping,     an  exchange   rate stronger  than   exporters  would  like   and  (some  would  say)  a  government   which  does  little  to  encourage  farmers, output  from the  rural  regions   is   again pumping  the  lifeblood   into   an  economy  which might otherwise be  gasping for air.

News  from  the  ANZ  this  week indicated  its  World Commodity Price Index lifted 1.5% in September, partially unwinding the previous month’s fall. The lamb sub-index is now at a record level, driven by stronger prices for all cuts.

ANZ Agri Economist Susan Kilsby reported dairy and forestry both regained some ground and aluminium and meat prices  were strong. Continue reading “Lift in commodity prices gives boost to the economy – here’s hoping we can keep on shipping our goods to market”

China’s growth is a key factor in lifting returns from NZ’s major exports

New Zealand’s producers of  major exports  have  been  earning  the  country record returns   in  foreign  markets.

It’s  the  news which  should  buoy  the whole country after  such a  tough  year.

ANZ’s monthly commodity price index rose 6%  in March on February, and  is 20% higher than a year ago,  to  peak  at its highest point since it was started in 1986.

Standing out has been the strength of global dairy prices, which gained 12.7% in March, the highest in seven years.  Returns  for whole milk powder, a key driver  for Fonterra’s suppliers, were 43%  higher than last year.

ANZ’s agricultural economist Susan Kilsby said:

“Dairy prices are currently being supported by strong global demand, combined with a steady milk supply in the main dairy-exporting nations”.

Meat was close to a one-year high, while logs and aluminium were sitting near two-year highs.

The common feature of the strong prices and demand was China, which was growing more strongly than most economies after the pandemic, Kilsby said. Continue reading “China’s growth is a key factor in lifting returns from NZ’s major exports”

Stronger business investment – by farmers, too – is essential for NZ’s post-Covid recovery

In  its Thursday editorial  the NZ  Herald  speaks an important truth:  “Investment important to  stay  on  track”.  This  won’t  have  startled  its  more literate  readers but  in  its text  it notes  the  strong result  in the latest  Global Dairy Trade auction, which  prompted Westpac  to raise  its  forecast  for  dairy giant Fonterra’s payout  to its farmers to $7.50kg/MS  this season.

“If  this turns  out to be correct,  it will represent the highest  payout in  seven years for  a  sector of  the economy that is arguably still  NZ’s  most  important, even before international  tourism was effectively suspended by Covid-19”.

The  Herald editorial  goes on to make the case that despite the buoyant mood,  the  only  realistic  way for  NZ to remain   in such  solid shape in the  post-Covid era  is  through stronger  business  investment.

This  is  the theme  which  Point  of  Order  set  out  earlier  this  week when it  contended  Fonterra  should go hard  with this  seasons’s payout  to  encourage  investment  by its farmer-shareholders  in expanding  production. Continue reading “Stronger business investment – by farmers, too – is essential for NZ’s post-Covid recovery”

Dairy data should delight Covid recovery monitors while discouraging industry detractors

Farmers  are   back in the  frame  as  the  backbone  of  NZ’s  export economy,  after the  Covid-induced collapse of  the foreign  exchange earning capacity  of the  tourist  and international education industries.  But  it  is not  only  the  rural  industries themselves which  are  scrutinising bulletins  on  the  prices  being  earned  abroad  for  commodities.  Those data have  become a  vital  item  for  New Zealanders eager  to  monitor the recovery of an economy  battered  by a  one-in -100  year  event.

This  week  the  ANZ  reported  its  world commodity  price  index   had  eased  0.2%  in September as lower dairy and meat prices were largely offset by stronger prices for logs and fruit.

In local currency terms the index fell 1.3% as the NZ$ strengthened by 0.6% on a trade weighted index  basis during  the  month.

Hard on the heels  of those figures came   the  results   of  the latest  Fonterra  global  dairy   trade auction  where  the   average  price   strengthened  to  $US3143  a  tonne  and  wholemilk  powder (which  plays a  significant  role  on  Fonterra’s payout to  suppliers)  rose  1.7%  to  $3041  a  tonne.

Volumes sold were about the highest offered in 2020 and the most bidders of the year showed up for the  auction. Butter, up 8.4% to  $US3561,  rebounded  from  the previous  auction. Continue reading “Dairy data should delight Covid recovery monitors while discouraging industry detractors”

O’Connor recognises how pandemic has affected the economy and its primary players

Agriculture  Minister   Damien  O’Connor  says   the primary sector   will  play a critical  role  in  NZ’s  economic   recovery  once the country    emerges   from the  Covid-19 lockdown.

It is the first  time  (at  least  within  Point of Order’s close  surveillance of the  issue)  that  a coalition  minister has acknowledged   how the pandemic  has shifted  the  dial  inside  the   economy.

O’Connor   says  there   is no shortage of  demand for  what NZ  produces.

Our primary sector is part of the solution to global food security concerns in the short-term”.

 The government is working alongside the primary sector to help ensure workers get to the places they are needed. Continue reading “O’Connor recognises how pandemic has affected the economy and its primary players”

Yep, farm prices are booming and the outlook is bright – but cockies might quibble with O’Connor about the causes

Farmers  are  riding a  boom with  the latest  ASB index  for  primary sector  exports  surpassing its   2011  level.   Lamb prices  cracked the  $9/kg  mark   and  beef prices  are   at,   or close to,  record levels.  There is  the prospect  too that  Fonterra’s  payout could  reach  $7.50kg/MS,  one of its  best  ever.

Agriculture   Minister   Damien  O’Connor has not  been slow to  put his government in line   for the  credit  in reaching  these  high  levels—or   to argue  a  Labour-led   government is better for farmers than  National.

At  least  that   was the implication in an  answer he gave in  Parliament last  week.

So farmers and growers are getting better prices for their work under this government than the last National one”.

 O’Connor  is one of the  more  effective ministers  in  the Ardern  Cabinet  but he might have been  stretching it  a  bit  in implying  the  high prices are due to the government.

When  Labour’s Kiritapu Allan  asked   him what action  the government is taking to help this sector,  he  responded: Continue reading “Yep, farm prices are booming and the outlook is bright – but cockies might quibble with O’Connor about the causes”