Steffan Browning

Selling New Zealand’s brand and profits

by Steffan Browning

New Zealand is headed towards having our farming families becoming peasants in their own land by allowing further and unnecessary foreign investment into processing of New Zealand dairy production.

The ticking off of two new foreign dairy processors into New Zealand production by the Overseas Investment Office is a huge opportunity cost to New Zealand’s biggest company and farmer owned co-operative Fonterra.

This week, Yashili International have been ticked to build a baby formula processing plant south of Auckland, and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group have been ticked through similarly for a plant near Glenavy.

Both companies have been implicated in food safety scares, such as melamine or mercury contamination, and are relying on New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of safe and clean food.

The two companies are to spend about $200 million dollars each; money which could be raised by New Zealand farmers through a retention policy, such as Fonterra is already operating.

The purported investments show that New Zealand’s brand and product is sought after, but giving even more of the value chain to overseas interests reduces opportunities to ensure a pricing structure for New Zealand farming families and investors to build a sustainable future.

Current supply and demand price signals on the back of New Zealand’s drought show that we can achieve higher prices, allowing more sustainable farming practices, while compensating for any possible decreased total volumes. Handing over any potential value gains to foreign investors will make sustainable farming practices all the more difficult for farming families.