Emerging markets drive record exports for NZ dairy giant

Updated: 2012-01-19 15:11


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WELLINGTON - The world's biggest dairy company, New Zealand's Fonterra, Thursday announced record monthly exports in December, driven by demand from China and other developing regions.

The farmer cooperative sent 246,000 tons of dairy products offshore during December, boosting New Zealand's economy by NZ$1.3 billion  for the month and accounting for more than a quarter of the country's exports, said a Fonterra statement.

The figures surpassed its previous monthly record of 229,000 tons of exports set last March.

Continued growth in global demand for dairy products combined with record milk production early in the current dairy season had led to another spike, said the statement.

Fonterra trade and operations managing director Gary Romano said a good autumn and a mild winter created optimal grass growing conditions ahead of the 2011-2012 dairy season.

"This helped create a wave of milk up about 10 percent on a daily basis during the peak flow in late September through to November," said Romano in the statement.

Farmers had faced some extreme challenges, with spring snow and flooding in some regions, but the record milk production had peaked at peaked at more than 80 million liters a day, he said.

Demand for high quality dairy products was still looking strong with Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and North Africa driving the growth in exports.

"Dairy is becoming increasingly important in these markets as people grow wealthier and want access to more nutritious foods," Romano said.

However, a spokeswoman for Fonterra told Xinhua Thursday that the company could not give a breakdown of the figures for different markets.

In July last year, Fonterra announced an expansion of its production in China with an agreement to invest in its third Chinese dairy farm as part of its strategy to build a high-quality and sustainable fresh milk supply for the Chinese market.

Fonterra, best known for its Anchor brand of products, is the largest milk processor in the world, producing more than 2 million tons of dairy products every year and employing 16,000 staff.

Fonterra had a 43-percent stake in the Hebei-based Sanlu dairy company, which collapsed in late 2008 after thousands of babies fell ill and six were believed to have died after consuming infant formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.

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