15 Oct 2010

Turnaround at NZFS Uruguay seen as difficult

8:31 am on 15 October 2010

The new head of New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay has pledged to get the struggling farm development company back on track, but admits it will be a difficult task.

Chief executive Alastair de Raadt, the former managing director of Tip Top New Zealand, joined Farming Systems less than a month ago. He's based in Uruguay.

Shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Auckland on Thursday questioned whether its business model is working, and why it's taking so long to become profitable.

Mr de Raadt admits the company has a tough year ahead, as milk production is down due to poor quality grass and cows, while costs are rising. But says he's focused on trying to remedy these problems.

He also said the number of cows is the same and pasture growth this year has been slow. Milk production is running at 10% below.

Farming Systems Uruguay says it won't become profitable until 2015, three years later than planned. It won't pay a dividend until at least then.

The company is now 78% owned by Olam International of Singapore.