18 Nov 2010

Environmental improvment essential - Fonterra

10:35 pm on 18 November 2010

Fonterra's chief executive has told shareholders the dairy co-operative is doing well economically and in the community, but more needs to be done on the environmental front.

The company's annual general meeting was held in Hawera on Thursday.

Andrew Ferrier says the company earns one in four of New Zealand's export dollars and has many social programmes including one to serve a million breakfasts in schools.

But Mr Ferrier says compliance with effluent rules is a problem area.

He says customers expect dairy foods produced without environmental compromise and that sustainability will be a defining issue for the success of Fonterra.

Chairman backs clean message

Chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden says improved environmental performance would get New Zealanders behind the dairy industry.

He says that will be vital when the company lobbies Government to reduce its requirement to provide milk to other companies under dairy industry competition rules.

Fonterra has to supply milk to other companies at a regulated rate, to encourage market competition.

The company is lobbying the Government to drop the obligation when a full review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act begins next March.

Sir Henry says winning in the political arena requires public backing, and that will not come until people are convinced dairying is getting cleaner.