29 May 2014

Fonterra waiting for China to lift ban

8:03 am on 29 May 2014

Fonterra does not know yet when China will lift its ban on imports of whey powder and infant formula base powders produced by the company, chairman John Wilson says.

China suspended imports of those products from Fonterra following last year's botulism false alarm involving whey powder concentrate.

Mr Wilson said it had been told it would be cleared but it was still waiting to hear when that would happen. However, it affected only a small percentage of its product.

The costs of dealing with the botulism incident and its aftermath would have no impact on this season's milk payout to farmers, or the dividend, he said.

"That cost was borne very much at the start of the financial year, so it was included in our half year discussions and if we go forward now, the relationships with our customers that were impacted is very, very strong.

"Of course we have still got the Danone arbitration sitting out there, but if you look across the rest of our business then I guess the business is operating 'very normally' and, in fact, probably on an enhanced basis, because of the learnings that came out of the whole whey protein concentrate event," Mr Wilson said.