Fonterra will shut its ‘small, aging’ milk powder plant at its Brightwater site near Nelson in April 2023, the co-op has announced. Milk collection and associated operations at Brightwater will not be affected.
The milk powder factory processes about 0.25% of Fonterra’s overall milk supply. The closure - described as ‘a tough decision’ by CEO Fraser Whineray – will deliver ‘significant’ cost savings if production is moved to the co-op’s Darfield site. Other factors include a forecasted decline in milk supply along with maintenance and capital costs.
“We are ceasing powder manufacturing at Brightwater because part of our long-term strategy is to direct more milk into foodservice and consumer, less milk through ingredients, and in some cases, divert product away from Global Dairy Trade,” a Fonterra spokesperson told DairyReporter.
There are 30 staff members who will be affected by the closure, but Whineray is ‘confident’ that all will secure new roles. “It’s no doubt tough news for some of the Brightwater team and we’ll be working with them in the coming months on their future options, including re-deployment opportunities within the co-op,” he said.
This was echoed by the company’s spokesperson, who added: “Our priority right now is supporting our impacted employees through this and looking at redeployment opportunities. Throughout the year, there a numerous job opportunities throughout the co-op - for example, at the moment in New Zealand manufacturing we have around 350 vacancies across the country.”