Formed in 2001 to represent most New Zealand dairy farmers, Fonterra is the world’s biggest dairy exporter. It suffered a setback in China in 2008 after an adulterated milk powder scandal affecting Sanlu, 43-per-cent-owned by Fonterra. The milk powder was adulterated with melamine, affecting thousands of Chinese infants and killing six. Sanlu was declared bankrupt and several managers were sentenced to prison. In 2013, Fonterra also sought to reassure the market after Dicyandiamide, also known as DCD, was found in exported New Zealand milk. DCD is used to stop nitrogen leaching on farms. In August 2013, some of its products were withdrawn in selected Asian countries including China after it said it had found bacteria which can cause botulism in some of its dairy products.
NZ’s Fonterra to cut up to 300 jobs
New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra will cut up to 300 administrative jobs in New Zealand and reinvest the savings in growth markets, under an expansion strategy to enable the world’s biggest dairy exporter to compete with global brands.
The country’s biggest company on Wednesday said the proposed cuts would free up NZ$65 million (HK$431.8 million) a year which would be reinvested into growth projects. It employs 17,000 staff around the world.
“Fonterra has a clear strategy to drive growth,” chief executive Theo Spierings said.
“While we are investing in growth, we have to make sure our people are working on the right things and that we are spending our precious capital on the right priorities.”
Fonterra, which controls one third of the world’s dairy exports, has been concentrating on expanding into Asian markets to capitalise on growing milk sales in emerging countries.
In March, it said it would begin selling branded infant formula in China later this year. It also plans to build a plant between next year and 2016 which will process ultra-high temperature milk in China, where it has set up three dairy farms and has two under construction.
Units in Fonterra’s Shareholders Fund edged up to NZ$8.010 after the announcement, hitting their highest level since the fund’s launch in November.