by Steffan Browning
Fonterra has just announced that it is renewing organic milk supply contracts in Manawatu, Taranaki, and Wairarapa for two years and three years for Waikato and Bay of Plenty farmers, but dropping Northland contracts as they come up for renewal. Manawatu, Taranaki and Wairarapa farmers had been told in 2011 that their contracts were not to be renewed.
It is great to see some suppliers that were previously being discarded having their organic status acknowledged again, albeit for a woeful two years in some cases. But going backwards overall by dropping Northland’s organic pickup and premium shows that Fonterra isn’t serious about promoting best practice sustainability or the New Zealand 100% pure brand across the board.
It appears just a commercial convenience when it suits.
If Fonterra is committed to the New Zealand brand, which favours sustainability, good animal welfare, and safe food free of residues, then it would encourage organics throughout New Zealand with a premium, and as capacity builds, begin processing in the regions.
Fonterra is flip flopping on whim, giving no stability to some of its best farmers, while still scrambling around doing damage control over contaminants such as DCD in its products.
Organic farmers can be the more profitable, but Fonterra seems wedded to an unsustainably produced volume based business model, encouraging the same elsewhere in the world also. A commitment towards organics by Fonterra will better advantage New Zealand farmers for the future.