New milk testing technology designed by Fonterra will effectively give each dairy farm a milk fingerprint.
The new technology, which has won the dairy giant a research excellence award, delivers milk's composition by light analysis and sophisticated computing.
Fonterra chief science and technology officer Jeremy Hill said it was a game-changer.
"What the technology enables us to do is test the milk from every farm, every day. We've been doing that for years anyway, but for quite a limited number of milk components really - just the total fat, protein, lactose content of that milk.
"The milk fingerprinting approach enables us to look at a vast array of compositional factors in the milk."
He said the tests would help Fonterra to decide which milk was better suited to different products, such as powder, or whipped cream.
"Previously we've had an idea around what milks are required for what process and what milks give us better products, but it's been pretty much practically impossible to then go back to the individual farms and in close to real time be able to identify how the milk from those farms maybe match with those processes or products.
"With this technology we are now able to look at those specific requirements of our manufacturing processes and our products and to match those back to characteristics that are produced on the farms."