[b Fonterra is continuing to increase its use of rail to send dairy products from its processing plants to ports for shipment overseas.
The dairy co-operative has all except two of its major manufacturing sites hooked up directly to rail.
On Friday, a new rail link was opened connecting its newest plant at Darfield in Canterbury to the main trunk line, which will allow it to take up to 90 trucks of milk powder a day off the roads.
Fonterra transports milk collected from farms by rail across the North island from southern Hawke's Bay to Longburn in Manawatu and Whareroa in Taranaki and also transports South Island milk by train during peak production.
But Fonterra logistics network director in New Zealand, Mark Leslie, says its heaviest use of rail is for getting its products to the ports from processing plants or bulk stores.
He said for the year to date Fonterra had moved approximately 18% more volume on a metric tonnes basis by rail versus road compared with the same time last year.
"About 95,000 containers a year will move via rail from our packing sites to the finished ports, so 95,000 containers out of about 160 - 170,000 containers.''