3 Jul 2011

Exporters join forces to improve shipping times

7:40 pm on 3 July 2011

Two of New Zealand's biggest exporters, Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms, are joining forces to improve shipping times.

The farmer-owned co-operatives are forming a company called Kotahi to manage the movement of containers to and from ports.

It is designed to meet shipping demands and stop empty containers from moving around the supply chain.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper says that collectively Silver Fern Farms and Fonterra export about 175 shipping containers each year - about 30% of the country's container exports.

Mr Cooper says the move will make exporting and importing produce more efficient.

"We envisage that Kotahi will attract other exporters and importers, so they can share in the benefits of doing things smarter onshore in a more efficient manner and thereby giving more certainty to the global shipping companies."

The first container will be shipped in July.

Shareholders council welcomes new company

The chair of Fonterra's shareholders council Simon Couper says the new freight initiative, as well as Fonterra's buy-back of the rural supply firm RD1, shows that it's in good heart.

He says Kotahi will be viewed as sustainable and ensure efficiencies.

The cooperative is also regaining full ownership of the rural supplies firm RD1, buying back the shares it sold in 2006 to the Australian rural supplies chain Landmark.

Mr Couper says that will put returns that would otherwise accrue to a private investor back into farmers' hands.

Mr Couper hopes the buyback of RD1 will also improve the products and services delivered to farmers.

He says it will make the industry more competitive and ensure that farmers are not overpaying for their rural supplies and services.

Mr Couper hopes it will also mean the dairy feed supplement palm kernel will become more consistent in supply and price.