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flavour & sensory journey of the seed analysis

LETTUCE The future of packaging



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My parents recently returned from a holiday in Europe. My father was raving about these “new” lettuces he had been eating the entire time he was away – “Little Gem” cos. They were buying them in a three pack from the supermarkets and it would appear Dad was devouring them as a snack. I had to break it to my father that in fact mini cos was nothing new and was being sold in New Zealand and had been for some time. He was shocked that he wasn’t aware but no doubt added them to their weekly shopping.


MANA - charlotte@ 021 301 677

Keeping in mind that my father is very near 70 years old and a semi-retired South Island sheep and cattle farmer – not that I am making stereotypes but there isn’t too much need for a Little Gem cos in the Hakataramea Valley. This has had me thinking. The 5+aday campaign which we are very proud to support and supply vegetable seed for their education resources does a great job along with United Fresh and many other organisations such as to promote vegetable consumption to the New Zealand public. However, further from that is considering how we promote to vegetable consumers to try new vegetable types.

South Pacific Seed Sales (NZ) Ltd 12 Alpito Place ∙ PO Box 804 Pukekohe 2340 Phone +64 9 239 0890 Freephone 0800 77 22 43





I myself am guilty of not fully exploring the vegetable offering. Recently whilst judging the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year one of our joint winners, Austin Singh, presented his marketing module on kohlrabi and had brought in some product for us to sample. Whilst we do sell kohlrabi I had in fact never tried it. Getting back to the South Island sheep and beef reference - having been brought up in this environment I am a great fan of the swede and turnip straight from the paddock. Many a trip south to visit customers in Southland has seen me boarding the flight home with a couple of giant swedes as hand luggage. So I was rather surprised to discover that kohlrabi is in fact a little like swede in flavour and texture. With three young boys, four and under, I am always looking for new ways to get more veggies into these mini people, and so now kohlrabi cut into dipping sticks along with some hummus feature for our snacks. This then had me thinking what other vegetables we sell that I have never brought myself or cooked with. These include – fennel, celeriac, spaghetti squash and kumi kumi. So as I am now taking a period of parental leave at home with our newest addition (4 weeks old as I write this) I may in fact use the time to tick these other vegetables off the list and may be surprised to find some new favourites for the family.


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2 News & Events 4

Flavour & sensory analysis



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Do you want to sell the 12 The future of freshest, most flavourful packaging & fragrant basil? 14 The business of growing Tomato

DISCLAIMER Descriptions, recommendations and information provided are based on an average of data and observations collected from our trials, and shall correspond as closely as possible to practical experience. This information shall be provided to assist professional growers and users, whereby variable local conditions must be taken into account. Significant variations may occur in the performance of products due to a range of conditions including cultural/ management practices, climate, soil type and geographic location. Under no circumstances shall South Pacific Seed Sales (NZ) Ltd accept liability based on such information for deviating results in the cultivated product. The Purchaser shall itself determine whether the items are suitable for the intended cultivation and whether they can be used under local circumstances. | 01

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4TH - 6TH




17TH - 19TH



17TH - 18TH


It is a

TRIFECTA OF BOYS Beau Kenneth Connoley Born Sunday 2nd June 2019 Weighing 4.2kg Charlotte, Rob, Mack and Finn welcomed a baby brother, congratulations Connoley Family.

BIENNIAL COSTA PROTECTED CROPPING AUSTRALIA This year the biennial Costa Protected Cropping Australia (PCA) conference was held Sunday 7th July to Wednesday 10th July at The Star Conference facility Broadbeach, Gold Coast. This conference saw the largest delegate registrations, 575 and record exhibitors; 83 in the history of PCA. Medical Cannabis featured for a good part of the first day and it did not take long to see that just to get a permit and then a licence to grow is a massive long and thorough process. Innovation and Technology certainly took centre stage as did Biosecurity, Integrated Pest Management, Labour and plant nutrition. The presenters came from many different countries and certainly made for many very interesting presentations. Next year the Hydroponic Federated Farmers conference takes place 21-23 July in Dandenong, PCA returns 2021.

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The leader of the National Party, Simon Bridges, and Andrew Bailey, the MP for Hunua, visited our Greenhouse customer New Zealand Gourmet in Waiuku. A great opportunity to discuss capsicum growing and some of the issues growers are facing such as the Labour shortage in our Primary Industries. On October 10th Andrew Bailey will be presenting to our Pukekohe Young Grower group. If you would like to be part of our Pukekohe Young Grower group and attend our presentations and field trips please email

IMPROVED MODEL COULD HELP SCIENTISTS BETTER PREDICT CROP YIELD, CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS A new computer model incorporates how microscopic pores on leaves may open in response to light – an advance that could help scientists create virtual plants to predict how higher temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide will affect food crops, according to a study published in a special July 2019 issue of the journal Photosynthesis Research. “This is an exciting new computer model that could help us make much more accurate predictions across a wide range of conditions,” says Johannes Kromdijk, who led the work as part of an international research project called Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency(RIPE).

GENE EDITING The Royal Society Te Aparangi has published a paper on the legal and regulatory implications of gene editing. The expert panel set up by Royal Society Te Aparangi to consider the implications of new gene-technologies in healthcare, pest control and the primary industries, has concluded there is a need to move on from a black and white view of “GM or not GM” to a more nuanced view that recognises a wide range of applications of the technology, some of which may be more acceptable to New Zealand communities than others. Revised scenario summary and technical documents, and the paper on the legal and regulatory framework, are available to view at

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Within Enza Zaden we do a lot of so called postharvest research. This entails research focused on taste, shelf-life, fresh-cut quality, nutrition and cold tolerance of our products. With the data we get from these analysis we can further improve our products and attune them to consumers’ wants and needs. We looked up some facts on how we experience taste.

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SOME FACTS How it all started

During the 1940s and through the mid-1950s the first research in food acceptance took place at the U.S. Army Quartermaster Food and Container Institute in Chicago, Illinois. The military found that adequate nutrition, as measured by analysis of diets or preparation of elaborate menus, did not necessarily represent food acceptance by military personnel. These initial studies acknowledged research on consumer acceptance.

Effect of colour

If a colour difference exists, the brain may signal that a flavour difference exists when in fact, it is not there when the visual differences are masked. For example, if a taster receives two cookies and one is darker in colour, they may perceive the darker one to be sweeter, when in fact it may not be.

Sweetness blocker

Gymnema Sylvestre blocks the sweet receptors, such that sweet foods do not taste sweet anymore. It is often used in diets to lose weight.

Our brain




Taste buds


Gustation is a chemical sense mediated by structures that contain taste buds. Taste buds are located on the surface of the tongue, in the mucosa of the palate and on areas of the throat. General chemical sensitivity in the mouth is tactile or irritation sensations that are felt in areas where there are no taste buds. Examples of these general chemical sensitivities are astringency or drying from tannins in foods, and the cooling effects of menthol, or the warmth or irritation from hot pepper.

5. The strongest will survive 6.

Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami

The four classical tastes are sweet, sour, salty and bitter. These qualities suffice for most purposes. Other suggested tastes are metallic, astringent and umami. Umami is an oral sensation stimulated primarily, but not only, by monosodium glutamate. Astringency is a chemically induced complex of tactile sensations. Metallic taste is little understood.

Sensory evaluation is the scientific method used to evoke, measure, analyse and interpret those responses to products as perceived through the senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing. The brain can make adjustments based on feedback from the muscles and the jaw while chewing, allowing for controlled and smooth movements. This also tells us about the internal structure or texture of the product.

In a mixture of quinine and sucrose, both ingredients will be partially suppressed by the other. A balanced sweet/sour wine will taste very sour after eating a sweet dessert, while the same wine would seem to lack sourness, and taste too sweet when taken with a salad having a vinegar dressing.

7. Smelling vs. chewing 8.

Smelling an aromatic food through the front of the nose may produce a different experience than when the aroma is perceived during chewing of food. | 05

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SPS 036-7

SKILTON is a green multileaf lettuce in the spikey style that is suitable for whole head and single leaf production. SKILTON produces very high numbers of uniform leaves that have a strong, crisp texture.

WILDEBEAST is a green multileaf in the ‘spikey’ style but with an attractive smooth tip to the leaf that provides growers with a consistent product, year round. WILDEBEAST yields exceptionally high leaf numbers making it an ideal choice for whole head or single leaf/ salad mixes. WILDEBEAST is suitable for both field and hydroponic production.

SPS 036-7 is a red Eazyleaf in the ‘spikey’ style with heavily serrated leaves which is suitable for both whole head production and for use in salad mixes. SPS 036-7 is able to be grown year round in either hydroponic systems or in the field. SPS 036-7 has high vigour but is strong against bolting. It also shows excellent field tolerance to anthracnose.

SKILTON can be grown year round and is complementary to Budgee for growers looking to grow two varieties side by side. SKILTON has a narrower leaf profile when compared to Budgee. SKILTON has a full mildew package (BI:1-33) and Nasonovia resistance. VARIETY FEATURES • Medium-dark green • Medium to large sized heads • Medium vigour DISEASE RESISTANCES

WILDEBEAST has exceptionally thick leaves which provides for extended shelf life. With dark green leaves, that remain uniform throughout the head, WILDEBEAST gives very little wastage due to ‘out of spec’ leaves. With a full mildew package (BI: 1-35) and Nasonovia resistance WILDEBEAST provides growers with good disease protection VARIETY FEATURES

• High Resistance: Bl:1-33, Nr:0

• Medium-dark green

• Intermediate Resistance: LMV:1

• Medium to large sized heads • Medium vigour DISEASE RESISTANCES

SPS 036-7 will form large heads if left to size up but, when harvested early, will maintain uniform leaves throughout the head. SPS 036-7 has a strong disease package BI: 1-35, Nr(0). VARIETY FEATURES • Double red colour • Large sized heads • High vigour DISEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance:Bl:1-35, Nr:0 • Intermediate Resistance: LMV:1

• High Resistance: Bl:1-35, Nr:0 • Intermediate Resistance: LMV:1

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HAMPOLE is a little gem cos suited to hydroponic production of mature heads, in particular for the sleeving or bagging markets. The leaf of HAMPOLE has a slight blister and the heads are late to close providing strong tolerance to internal tipburn in the heat of Summer in addition to strong bolting tolerance.

EZME represents a new lettuce style in the market and is an exciting addition to the SPS assortment that opens up a range of opportunities for salad growers. EZME is a medium sized, open, red cos in a rosette style. Ideally EZME is used in conjunction with the green cos Ezmari for a cos leaf salad mix but is also suitable as a stand-alone product for the whole head market.

EZMARI is a green multileaf in the butterhead/cos style that yields extremely high leaf numbers. EZMARI can be grown both in the field and in hydroponic systems and is suitable for year round production - although performs exceptionally well in cool conditions due to its vigour.

A versatile variety, HAMPOLE also has good cool season vigour and complements Westham as an Autumn or transitional variety but with the added benefit of full mildew cover and Nasonovia resistance. HAMPOLE will produce highly uniform heads under hydroponic production systems but is not recommended for outdoor production. VARIETY FEATURES • Mid-green colour • Mini heads • Good vigour DISEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance: Bl:1-31, Nr:0 • Intermediate Resistance: LMV:1

EZME has a thick but ultimately palatable leaf with an attractive shine and a slight savoy which provides bulk to salad mixes. EZME is suitable for year round production in both the field and hydroponics and is very strong against both tipburn and bolting. EZME has a strong disease package with full mildew cover (BI: 1-35) and is Nasonovia resistant.

EZMARI is an ideal variety for salad producers looking for a cos style leaf to use in mixes but it can also be used as whole heads in a sleeve or clamshells. EZMARI has a butterhead style leaf texture that is soft to the bite but still provides for good shelf life; the leaf has a slight blister and cup giving bulk to mixes. The leaves of EZMARI remain uniform in size throughout the head giving very little wastage due to ‘out of spec’ leaves.



• Triple red colour

• Light-mid green

• Medium heads

• Medium to large sized heads

• Medium vigour

• Medium vigour



High Resistance: Bl:1-35, Nr:0

• High Resistance: Bl:1-27,29,32, Nr:0 • Intermediate Resistance: LMV:1 | 07

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How you grow and process fresh cut basil will impact the flavour and shelf life of the harvested product. Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs. Whether grown as a potted crop or for fresh cut sales, basil is a herb that’s in demand year-round. Growers looking to add edibles to their product mix should consider basil to be a must-have herb in their product offerings.




Clemson University horticulture professor Jim Faust said ornamental plant growers looking to supplement their crops with fresh cut basil will find some similarities with the propagation of unrooted vegetative cuttings. “The physiology of ornamental unrooted cuttings is very similar to fresh cut basil,” Faust said. “It’s a stem with a few leaves on it. The way the basil is grown is going to impact the postharvest performance just like unrooted cuttings. Stock plant production for unrooted cuttings is just as important as the postharvest handling. Cuttings, whether harvested from ornamental stock plants or basil plants, have to be well toned to handle the rigors of packaging and the postharvest environment. A well-toned cutting is not too soft, meaning that it has not been grown too lushly with too much water and nutrients.” Faust said growers want to produce more durable cuttings that are going to have a lower water content and stiffer leaves. “Being that basil is an edible crop, the leaves shouldn’t be too stiff,” he said. “There is good data on basil showing that as the water content in the basil leaves increases the susceptibility to chilling injury increases. Growers should not be trying to grow the plants as fast as possible. This means incorporating some water and nutrient restrictions in order to produce harder plants. Growing a stiffer plant is going to make the harvested cuttings less susceptible to bruising and chilling injury.” Faust said calcium also plays an important role in the strength of the leaf tissue. “We have done enough studies with calcium over the last few years that as the calcium content increases in plant tissue, including the leaves and flowers, they are more resilient to physical stress and to fungal disease stress. The plants are more resilient to disease infestation from pathogens like Botrytis.”

COOL DOWN IS CRITICAL Faust said if basil is harvested in a greenhouse, the temperature of the cuttings should be reduced relatively quickly. The longer the basil remains under warm temperatures the shorter its shelf life is going to be. “When basil is harvested it should be placed into a refrigerated cooler that is maintained at 12.8oC,” he said. “Removing the field heat is the highest priority. Harvested basil is going to have a longer shelf life when it’s stored at 12.8oC. 08 |

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Some larger greenhouses have a 30-minute rule. From the time that workers cut the basil until the time it’s placed in a refrigerated cooler should never take more than 30 minutes. In bigger operations, trucks will be used to continually pick up Styrofoam coolers to hold the harvested basil. The trucks take the basil to a refrigerated cooler where it is unloaded and stored. The temperature in the greenhouse can be anywhere from 21oC - 32oC so it is imperative to get the heat out of the harvested cuttings as quickly as possible.” Faust said it is also important to harvest the basil in the afternoon. “A lot of times people assume the best time to harvest basil is early in the morning when the greenhouse is cool rather than in the middle of the day when the temperature is warmer,” he said. “That is not the case with basil. Basil’s postharvest performance improves the later in the day the plants are harvested. The plants should be exposed to at least four hours of light before cuttings are harvested. Basil cuttings are more resistant to chilling injury and more resistant to ethylene damage when harvested later in the day. The plants are more ethylene sensitive in the morning than they are in the afternoon. Ethylene is produced as the plants warm up so that is one of the reasons the cuttings should be cooled down as quickly as possible. Ethylene causes leaf abscission. Cuttings harvested in the morning will abscise more leaves than those harvested in the afternoon.”

The postharvest performance of fresh cut basil improves the later in the day the plants are harvested. Photo courtesy of Hort Americas

Faust said the temperature in the storage cooler or delivery truck needs to be monitored to ensure it doesn’t drop below 10oC to avoid chilling injury. “Once the basil cuttings arrive at the cooler many growers will use forced air cooling, which is the same type of cooling used with fresh cut roses,” he said. “A fan pulls air across the cuttings and helps to quickly remove the field heat out of them. Weighing and packaging is usually done in the cooler because the harvested cuttings shouldn’t be kept in the greenhouses any longer than possible. If the person doing the harvesting also has to process the product, then that is going to slow the whole process down.” Faust said the way the basil is processed and washed will influence its flavour. “There are small hairs or trichomes on the basil leaves,” he said. “The trichomes have fragrance and flavour in them. If the basil is heavily washed too aggressively then the trichomes are removed which causes the loss of a lot of flavour.”

AVOIDING ISSUES WITH BOTRYTIS Botrytis is the main postharvest disease of fresh cut basil. “Botrytis is ubiquitous and the spores are always going to be around,” Faust said. “As the temperature goes above 12.8oC, there is going to be more Botrytis infection and a shorter shelf life. If the calcium levels in the basil tissue can be increased, just like in other crops, the Botrytis fungus won’t infect the plants as aggressively. If basil is being grown in greenhouses the plants are generally going to have Botrytis spores on them all of the time. 12.8oC is the ideal temperature for basil, which is very chilling sensitive. Basil is different from many other herbs, which makes it more difficult in terms of shipping and handling. Most other herbs prefer a storage temperature of 4.4oC. Basil is chilling sensitive so the temperature should not drop below 10oC and shouldn’t go above 12.8oC. This narrow temperature range can make it difficult to maintain fresh cut basil during storage and shipping.”

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Botrytis spores are always going to be around basil plants grown in greenhouses. Photo by Bruce Watt, Univ. of Maine, | 09

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Exceptional fruit quality and outstanding flavour are the key features of ANNAMAY. Able to be harvested loose or on the truss, the fruit of ANNAMAY sit nicely on a compact truss and have a dark green calyx and stem which present well. With the best results obtained from seven fruit per truss, ANNAMAY truss weight averages 245 grams.

AVALANTINO is an adaptable variety that will suit a range of growing environments and handle changeable conditions. A strong plant with consistent setting, the fruit of AVALANTINO are regularly placed on the truss with attractive green parts.

MAXEZA is a variety for the production of truss tomatoes with an average fruit weight of 160 grams. MAXEZA is suited to growers using high-tech, heated greenhouses. A high producing variety with excellent fruit quality, MAXEZA is most balanced and performs best in environments that are well ventilated and where the temperature is relatively unchangeable.

For loose harvest the calyx scar of ANNAMAY is very small resulting in a very attractive piece of fruit with good colour and gloss. ANNAMAY shows no susceptibility to fruit cracking or splitting. The plant of ANNAMAY is open with upright leaves making this variety labour friendly with medium vigour and yields very well. VARIETY FEATURES • 30-40g weight • Round fruit shape • Loose and truss harvest DiSEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance: ToMV/Ff:A-E/ Va:0/Fol:0,1/For/

Fruit flavour is exceptional with excellent sweetness for a tomato of this size and the fruit mature to a deep red. The fruit of AVALANTINO are slightly smaller but have good uniformity of fruit size and shape. VARIETY FEATURES • 80-90g weight • Round fruit shape • Loose harvest DISEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance: ToMV/Ff:1-5/Va/ Vd/Fol:0,1/For • Intermediate Resistance: On/Wi

A strong plant with regular setting, MAXEZA is early into production and labour friendly with the leaves nicely positioned in a semi-upright fashion. The fruit of MAXEZA are glossy, red in colour and highly uniform in regards to fruit shape; this continues throughout the plant. VARIETY FEATURES • 150-170g weight • Round fruit shape • Truss harvest DISEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance: Fol:0,1(EU)/ ToMV/Ff:1-5/For • Intermediate Resistance: On/Wi

• Intermediate Resistance: On/Si 10 |

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FORTAMINO Grafted tomato and eggplant crops have become more popular in order to protect against disease and to promote strong growth and early production in long term cultivations. The use of a Rootstock can also lead to an extension of the growing season, and ultimately increased yield. This can be attributed to the Rootstock being associated with the reduction of disease because the plant is not under disease pressure. The increase in yield will normally be in increased fruit size because Rootstocks will result in an increased nutrient and water uptake. Fortamino has a strong root system which gives strong vigour to the plants in the early stages. This in turn will give extra vegetative power to the plants and will also give a boost to the top of the plant providing good leaf cover and extra recovery in stressful conditions. Fortamino is suitable for both heated and non-heated growing environments. The main features of Fortamino are: • Homogeneous, uniform germination • High percentage of graftable plants • Strong but generative plant with good endurance • Long tomato trusses • Compatible with many tomato and eggplant varieties AGRONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS • Suitable for heated and non-heated growing environments • TSWV, TYLCV, On and Ff will not give their resistances to the scion • For, Fol, VaVd and Pl will give their resistance to the scion DISEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance: Va/Vd/Fol:0-2(EU)/ToMV/ Ff:1-5/For, Pl • Intermediate Resistance: TSWV/Ma/Mi/Mj


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Waikato-based packaging company Convex is leading the way in compostable food packaging and has been developing more environmentally friendly alternatives for decades. The company, a family-owned business based in Hamilton, has been at the forefront of technical innovations in this area for much of its 40-plus years in operation. “We’ve been researching bio-based resins and films at Convex since the mid-80s,” explains Managing Director Owen Embling. “We’ve got onsite laboratories and technicians who, along with industry partners, have successfully developed a growing range of commercially viable compostable films that process well and offer our clients good barrier and sealing properties.” The company has been praised in media and across the food industry for their latest developments in packaging for short shelf-life wet products like salad greens and chicken. But this is just the latest in a long line of smart solutions to meet increasing demand for a sustainable approach.

Global concern over environmental damage and human reliance on plastic packaging has become more vocal and widely appreciated in recent years. In New Zealand, the ban on single use plastic bags has propelled the issue to the front and centre of mainstream understanding. “Convex bought what was possibly the first commercial cornstarch based packaging resin in 1995 and, the following year, made our first ever compostable packs,” explains Owen. Since then, the company has continued to find new ways to make environmentally-friendly packaging that is affordable for their clients and that fully achieves what they need it to achieve. “As new resins and technologies become available, our team is constantly trialling new options and on the lookout for the next big ideas and smart new thinking,” says Owen. “It’s not always easy, of course, especially with

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food safety issues and shelf-life demands, but we’re making great strides.” Bostock Brothers and Lux Organics are two of the most recent clients enjoying the benefits of packaging materials from Convex’s now well-established Econic range. The Econic range’s moisture-resistant compostable packs are made from a combination of films derived from sustainably-managed renewable wood pulp and GM-free corn. The films are certified to several high-level international standards of compostability and are able to be composted in home composting environments where heat, water, oxygen, soil and microorganisms are present. “That’s one of the most exciting tech parts of these bags”, explains Owen. “Because moisture is a catalyst for the natural composting process, it was long thought impossible to be able to create moisture-resistant packs that could indeed be composted. But, on the back of years of invention, testing and determination, and the latest science and technologies of the day, we’ve managed to do that.” The key to success for the Convex team often lies with the client and their own commitment. The materials required to make sustainable packaging are still more expensive than plastics and are generally more difficult to work with, so results are often dependent on a joint commitment from Convex and their clients throughout the process. “Clients like Bostock Brothers and Lux Organics are crucial to a shift in mindset,” explains Owen. “Being future focused, committed to change, and having an approach that is open to a few alterations along the way is really essential when you’re working together on a new way of doing things.” Rotorua-based Lux Organics, who produce fresh, certified organic vegetables, microgreens and herbs, wanted to support their sustainability philosophy with packaging that minimised its environmental impact. The single-layer clear EcoClear™ film from the Econic range is getting plenty of positive feedback for Lux. Bostock Brothers and their requirements spearheaded the development of the moisture-resistant Econic®Clear™ range when they sought to extend their organic free range approach to their packaging. The Hawke’s Bay company is built out of a family passion for healthy, safe growing ‘farm to plate’ practices, with no chemicals, no antibiotics, no hormones and no genetic modification. The moisture-proof packaging is multilayered and vacuum-packed yet is compostable in a home system. “The Bostock packaging is something we’re particularly proud of due to the high levels of moisture it has to contend with,” explains Owen, “and we’re going to continue to develop this feature more and push the product’s performance further.” Much of Convex’s work is custom designed but there is a significant range of options that can be bought ‘off the shelf’ and labelled with the customer’s own branding. Quantities are not out of the reach of small local food producers keen to break in to the market. Now that New Zealand consumers are seeking out environmentally responsible alternatives, Convex will continue to be at the forefront of development in New Zealand.

By Vicky Jones | 13

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90-DAY TRIAL PERIOD AMENDMENT The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 (“Amendment Act”) was passed into law on 5 December 2018. The Amendment Act makes many changes to the existing Employment Relations Act 2000 (“Act”) regarding employees’ rights in the workplace and collective bargaining rights. Of particular importance to employers, on 6 May 2019 the Amendment Act makes changes to the 90-day trial period. 90-DAY TRIAL PERIOD Introduced by the previous government, the 90-day trial period allows an employer to dismiss an employee during the trial period. If dismissed the employee cannot raise a personal grievance claim for unfair dismissal. However, an employee is still able to raise a personal grievance against their employer on other grounds such as discrimination, sexual or racial harassment by the employer. When dismissing an employee under a trial period, the employer does not have to provide reasons for the dismissal nor are they required to follow their standard dismissal procedures. When this provision was introduced in 2008, only employers with less than 20 employees could use the 90-day trial period provisions for new employees. However, this was expanded in 2010 to cover all employers, regardless of the number of employees.

EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT 2018 CHANGES When the second stage of the Amendment Act comes into force, it will amend the Act to only allow employers with 19 or less employees use of the 90-day trial period provision. In essence, it reverts the legislation back to when it was first introduced in 2008.

WHAT EFFECT DOES THIS HAVE FOR EMPLOYERS From 6 May 2019, any employer who employs 20 people or more will need to review their current employment agreements to ensure that the 90-day trial period is not included when hiring a new employee. If a trial period provision is still in an employment agreement for a new employee after that date the trial period clause will not be valid and is unenforceable. However, if an employee has a trial period clause in their employment agreement and they were hired before 6 May 2019, the employer will be able to dismiss them validly under the trial period, despite the new legislation taking effect. While employers with 19 employees or less can still retain and use the 90-day trial period in their employment agreements, careful consideration should be given when hiring new employees to ensure that they do not exceed the 19-employee limit if they intend to rely on the trial period provisions. The Act still allows employers of any size to use probationary periods for new employees. While an employer, at the end of a probationary period, can dismiss an employee, a fair and reasonable process must be undertaken when doing so, otherwise the employer will risk a personal grievance being raised against them. Regardless of the size of the employer, regular reviews of employment agreements should be undertaken to ensure that the agreement conforms to the current legislation. If there is any uncertainty, then legal advice should be sought. By Vance Leach 14 |

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Do Employers Have to Pay Extra for KiwiSaver? KiwiSaver is a great scheme for getting Kiwis to save. After a decade we’re already saving billions collectively. The success of the scheme lies in making saving automatic. Contributions get paid because employers make the payments on their employees’ behalf. But what does it cost you as an employer? And is there a way to avoid that extra burden?

TWO KIWISAVER CONTRIBUTIONS Let’s be clear about what KiwiSaver requires. If your employee is a member of KiwiSaver, they get two contributions to their account: •

Their own contribution, which must be at least 3% of their gross pay (employee contribution); and

A contribution from you as their employer, also 3% of the employee’s gross pay (employer contribution).

In other words, every pay day, KiwiSaver members should see at least 6% of their gross pay funnelling into their accounts.

That can pose a couple of problems for employers: •

First, you’ll have to account for that extra 3% on your wage bill. You may not know who will join KiwiSaver. That means your salary rates should always allow for the possibility of paying 3% extra if an employee joins KiwiSaver. Second, comparing what different staff earn can be difficult. Imagine two staff members, Joe and Susie, who are on the same salary. Initially, neither elect to join KiwiSaver. But if Susie later joins KiwiSaver and receives 3% extra, Joe might feel like Susie’s getting paid more. Do you top up Joe in those circumstances, or tell him to join KiwiSaver?

You might wish there was a way to avoid these problems. Well, there is a way…

PAY NOTHING MORE FOR EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTIONS The truth is you can’t avoid paying the employer contribution. Every employer must pay it for KiwiSaver members. But you can avoid paying it on top of the employee’s pay by deducting it from their gross earnings. That way it gets treated the same way as the employee contribution. When can you do this? Only if the employee’s employment agreement says you can.

You make those deductions and payments each time you pay your staff PAYE to Inland Revenue.

The law is clear. The employment agreement must account for the amount of the employer contribution.


That does not mean you have to spell out exactly what you’ll be deducting. But you do need to be explicit that the employee’s pay includes the employer contribution.

Of the two types of contributions, the employee contribution is easy to make. You deduct 3% from what you would have otherwise paid to your employee as gross pay. You then pay that with the PAYE for that staff member. There’s nothing extra for you to pay – you’re just redirecting 3% from the employee’s take-home pay. But what about the employer contribution? Can you deduct that from the employee’s gross pay too? The default position is that you can’t. By default, employer contributions get paid on top of the employee’s gross earnings. That means that, in effect, the employee gets paid 103% of their agreed payment if they are a KiwiSaver member. It’s like an instant 3% pay rise when they join (even though they can’t touch that 3% until they’re 65).

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Here is an example clause you might use:

If you are a member of KiwiSaver, your total pay specified in this agreement includes the employer’s compulsory contributions to your KiwiSaver account. You agree that all contributions to KiwiSaver made by you and the employer will get deducted from your total pay .

GETTING STAFF TO AGREE Of course, if you are to include a clause like the above one in an employment agreement, your employee has to agree. That’s why they’re called “agreements”. It’s easiest if the employment agreement includes this clause from the outset. A new staff member can consider the effect of this clause as part of the total job offer. But what about adding this clause to the agreements for those who are already your staff? In that case, you’ll need to incentivise your staff to agree, perhaps by linking it to a pay rise or bonus. In doing so, you’ll also need to bear in mind a couple of things: •

You have an obligation to act in good faith and not deceive them. That means you should explain the effect of the change to them.

Any pay rise may need to be sufficient to assure the employee they’re not being disadvantaged.

CONCLUSION Making your employees’ pay inclusive of employer contributions may not mean you pay less. You may have to pay salaries and wages equivalent to what they would have been if you had not taken this approach. That may be what the market demands. But taking this approach could make accounting easier. It will also allow you to compare rates of pay between staff, regardless of who joins KiwiSaver. If you do go down this track, think carefully about how you’ll reach an agreement with your employees. You can’t take this approach unless they agree and it gets recorded in their agreement. So thinking through how to incentivise current staff will be key. BY MARK DONOVAN

If you are not a member of KiwiSaver, the employer will not make any contributions to your KiwiSaver account. Instead, the full amount of your total pay will get paid to you without any deductions for KiwiSaver. Note: The above clause requires that you specify somewhere in the agreement what “total pay” includes.

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A demographic picture of our

FUTURE WORKFORCE Christine Field looks at the size and shape of our future human capital in New Zealand. Over the past 30 years New Zealand has been through massive transformational change. Looking ahead 30 years, everything will again be very different. The composition of the workforce in terms of demographics, knowledge, skill sets, jobs, attitudes, expectations and ways of working will leap into new territory. A diverse mix of cultures, languages, faiths, age groups, connections, ideas and experience will introduce new paradigms into the workplace. The workforce will be larger, generally older, super-diverse and have a range of new talents and skill sets not yet evident.

DEMOGRAPHICS Predicting future population demographic trends is an inexact science subject to a range of variables, including migration, fertility and mortality. What we can say is that the population will grow, there will be more people working, more working people will be 65+ and there will be greater ethnic diversity in the workforce. In 2038, Statistics New Zealand projections suggest:

The significance of our human capital was highlighted by Secretary to the Treasury Gabriel Makhlouf in a speech on economic growth last year to accountants. “When we compare New Zealand to other OECD countries we get some good insights into just how significant our own human capital is. New Zealand is slightly above average in its ratio of human capital to GDP but is significantly above average in the ratio of human capital to physical capital. This suggests that our economy has a greater dependence on human capital for its economic

output, and may also suggest that having high levels of human capital is especially important for New Zealand’s economic growth,” Makhlouf said. “The health and skills of New Zealand’s workforce is the most important component of our human capital and the foundation of our productivity. It’s vital that we invest into the ongoing development and sustainability of our skills base as the nature of work changes and as the age and shape of the workforce changes.”

there could be another one million more people in work

20% of our people will identify as Maori (15% today)

22% will be Asian New Zealanders (12% today)

Pacific New Zealanders will make up 18% of our population (7% today)

up to 379,000 people in the 65+ category will be working (171,000 today).

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THE WORKERS OF TOMORROW The oldest of today’s burgeoning talent that is Gen Alpha will by 2038 be 29 years old. These children of the millennials don’t yet have a credit card, but they’re shaping up to be a huge market force.



By 2038


Wealthiest, most highly-educated, technologically connected group to date, huge spending power

Living with climate change and low carbon emissions economy

Children of millennials make for a growing lucrative consumer market Born from 2010 to 2025 Now aged 9 years and under Will grow up with AI and robots

Has a digital footprint from birth Problem-solving skills, peer-to-peer learning in connected classrooms, uses iPads for sharing work with teachers and classmates

The nine year old from 2019 turns 29 years this year Has lived through many current proposed education system changes Now in work, in tertiary study, at school, high employee expectations

Demands environmental, social and governance responsibility (ESG) GENERATION Z Internet and social media generation, also called the iGen, or Deltas, or Neo-Digital Natives Born 1995 to 2009 Now aged 10 years to 24 years, at school, in tertiary education or work, ethnically diverse People born in 2000 (Y2K) will be eligible to vote at the next election MILLENNIALS, OR GEN Y The echo boomers (children of the baby boomers) Born 1980 to 1994 Now aged 24 to 38 years

GENERATION X Independently minded – from slackers to start-up founders Born 1965 to 1979 Now aged 40 to 54 years

Shaped by change, raised with smartphones, moved from PC to mobile, from text to video, three hours daily online, social media integrated into life Independent, hardworking, loyal, open-minded, responsible, somewhat anxious, determined, compassionate, thoughtful, risk averse, accepting of new ideas, want more than just a job, purpose-led Special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, achieving, entitled, pragmatic, idealists

Aged 30 to 44 years Millennials on steroids, weight of saving the world on their shoulders, financially flailing, personal brand and privacy concerns, use phones more than TV for entertainment Focus on sensible careers, eager to sharpen skills for learning and development

Aged 44 to 58 years, leading business, commerce, running the country, parents with teenage and adult children

Favour flat corporate structure, work-life balance, social consciousness, dynamic career paths, collaborative way of working Entrepreneurial, founded technology start-ups and small businesses, selfconfident, optimistic, independent, resourceful, self-managing, adaptable, work-life balance, sceptical, pragmatic, happy, quiet

Aged 60 to 74 years, lived through the 1987 stockmarket crash and the 2007–08 Global Financial Crisis, several career changes, beginning to anticipate stopping work

LABOUR QUALITY AND CAPABILITY CONCERNS New Zealand’s labour quality and capability has for the past five years running been identified by directors as their organisation’s biggest risk. Workforce quality and capability was also rated one of the biggest impediments to national economic performance. Most recently, the 2018 and 2017 Director Sentiment surveys by the IoD and ASB highlighted workforce capability, quality and availability as the biggest issues for directors. These workforce constraints were reckoned to be key factors impeding New Zealand’s business capacity and growth.

Concerns about workforce quality and capability featured strongly in the 2018 Director Sentiment Survey with 28% of directors identifying it as the biggest risk facing their organisation.

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ASB chief economist Nicky Tuffley suggested that the unemployment rate at 3.9% was “incredibly low”, and that finding the right staff was a business challenge. To overcome that, businesses needed to think long term, and be innovative about sourcing, nurturing and retaining talent, and using technology. As management guru Peter Drucker famously said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” We’re shaping our future workforce now. BoardRoom magazine AUTHOR CHRISTINE FIELD MINSTD | 17 | 17

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Wai to Kai Spring 2019  

Wai to Kai Spring 2019  

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