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Fonterra reports record export figures

By Mark Astley , 21-Aug-2012

Fonterra, the world’s biggest exporter of dairy products, achieved a record export in the final three months of the 2011/12 season.

In May, June and July 2012, the co-operative shipped 620,000 tonnes of dairy products to more than 100 countries – an increase of 36% on the same three month period last year. During the final three months of the season, the firm traditionally ships around 450,000 tonnes of dairy products.

New Zealand-based Fonterra has cited record milk production by its 10,500 dairy farmer members in the 2011/12 season as a factor. Milk production was up 10% on 2010/11.

It has attributed the production increase to favourable weather conditions in the country during the season.

“The three main things that drove export growth this season,” a Fonterra spokesperson told DairyReporter.com. “We didn’t have any droughts, we didn’t have any floods and we achieved steady volume growth from our dairy farmers as a result.”

“A great season weather-wise led to a great season volume-wise for us,” the spokesperson added.

Ramadan demand

Fonterra also experienced a higher-than-anticipated spike in export demand ahead of the Islamic festival of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar – a time when Muslims across the world fast during hours of daylight. During this period, food is often bought in bulk. Fonterra exports a number of Anchor-branded products to the Middle East including cheese, butter and powdered milk.

As a result of the Ramadan spike, Fonterra was forced to charter a vessel to ship products to the Middle East. The vessel carried 7,500 tonnes of dairy products to ports in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

The chartering of a vessel to export products was a first for Fonterra, which makes more than 90% of its revenue from outside New Zealand.

Fantastic season

“This has been a fantastic season for us at Fonterra and for our shareholders,” the spokesperson added.

“We would expect a steady amount of small growth, but the success of the New Zealand dairy industry is reliant on good weather. That often dictates growth from year-to-year.”

Earlier this month, Fonterra announced that the first bags of whole milk powder had rolled of the production line at its new $200m manufacturing site near Darfield in Canterbury.

Products manufactured at the plant are bound for South East Asia, China and the Middle East.