Sunday, August 14, 2022

Agritech sector holding its own in NZ

Three Waikato-based companies were responsible for just over 50% of the TIN200 Agritech revenue in 2021.

The 2022 Agritech Insights Report that came out early this month clearly highlighted some of the strides being made here, as well as the importance of the agritech sector to New Zealand as a whole.

The report showed that agritech continues to be one of the biggest sectors in the TIN200, NZ’s 200 largest technology companies – the sector currently generates around $1.6 billion in revenue, or 11.4% of the TIN200 total revenue. 

It’s not just the overall contribution that is exciting in agritech, but the growth as well. NZ Agritech companies in the TIN200 showed $118 million in growth since the 2021 report, making up 8.2% of the TIN200 companies’ total growth. 

“The report celebrates the hard-won success and growth of the dynamic Agritech sector that plays to all the strengths of our historical reliance on farmers, horticulturalists, aquaculturists and apiarists,” TIN managing director Greg Shanahan said. 

The industry is dominated by the animal and crop health, data solutions and post-harvest sub-sectors, building on the international success of established NZ agritech companies such as Gallagher Group, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) and TOMRA Fresh Foods. 

Together, these three Waikato-based companies were responsible for just over 50% of the TIN200 Agritech revenue in 2021.

It’s also worth noting that some of the largest and most innovative agritech companies continue to call the Waikato region home. 

TIN200 firms in Waikato employ 62.8% of all agritech employees and account for 41.1% of the sector’s overall growth. 

As well as this, agritech employees in the region have the highest average wage of $105,401. 

Outside of the Waikato, Wellington/Manawatu and Central North Island recorded the greatest revenue increases at 45.6% and 28.7% respectively. 

The report also noted that a key driver in the growth of the sector has come out of our primary industries dealing with issues such as labour shortages caused by border restrictions and covid-19. 

“Domestic labour shortages and border restrictions have forced agritech companies to look at automation and data integration to improve productivity and drive growth,” the report stated. 

“This has created opportunities for a range of technologies, such as cow wearables, crop health and harvesting.” 

Two examples of relatively young companies making headway are smart cow collar company Halter and Cropsy Technologies, with their AI-enabled hardware that helps winegrowers monitor their crops. 

Halter has been scaling rapidly as its innovative technology cuts down labour units on dairy farms nationwide. 

The technology uses sounds and vibration to keep cows in their breaks, as well as detecting cows on heat and alerting farmers to any health issues. 

Cropsy, on the other hand, addresses frustrations growers face every season with pests and disease using their AI-enabled and GPS-tracked insights to monitor every plant with high definition image capture. 

And it’s the many up-and-coming stars like these companies which are doing their part to safeguard the future of agritech in NZ. 

It seems as though the future of the industry is in good hands. 

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