2 Sep 2021

Fonterra sends record 2.59 million tonnes of product to export market

8:41 am on 2 September 2021

Fonterra has brushed aside supply chain and shipping disruptions to send record volumes of product to export markets.

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A Fonterra factory in Cambridge. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The dairy giant said it shipped 2.59 million metric tonnes, equivalent to more than 200,000 containers over a 12-month period.

The record came as shipping schedule reliability plunged from a long-term average of around 75 to 80 percent to below 35 percent in the year ending July.

Shipping companies have bypassed New Zealand with available shipping capacity dropping 20 percent, Fonterra said.

Exporters also faced temporary port closures and restrictions because of port congestion, as well as a container shortage.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray said the co-op was able to get past the shipping issues due to its logistics joint venture Kotahi, which included meat processor Silver Fern Farms, shipping giant Maersk, and the Port of Tauranga.

Whineray said global supply issues would persist for some time, but expected Fonterra would continue to bypass them.

"What we've been able to do with the anticipation of that disrupted shipping is bring on some additional vessels with our partners which should actually give us a more reliable shipping schedule.

"That's the benefit of Kotahi, bringing together volumes from more than 50 exporters in New Zealand, so that we can get large ships to call frequently."

Fonterra's production side also remained unaffected by the supply chain problems, he said.

"It does require constant management because there's a lot of very small things which can all still hold up production lines.

"But the main one with Kotahi is to make sure that we get the empty dry or refrigerated containers so that all of those high value exports can come out of New Zealand from the many exporters that need to use their service," he said.