July 23, 2008

Fonterra Accounts for Quarter of NZ Exports

FONTERRA now accounts for a quarter of the country's export earnings, a report by Statistics New Zealand shows.

Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden said the figures for the year to May 2008 confirmed dairying was a true cornerstone of the economy.

"While there's an obvious contribution to our export receipts and the trade balance, the real benefits are the contribution from dairying, which starts on the farms of our shareholders and flows through local communities and the regions, and our cities," he said.

The latest figures show dairying's contribution has risen by more than 3 percent to a total of 27 percent of New Zealand's export revenues.

Fonterra's contribution alone was 25 percent.

"Clearly much of this increase has been driven by record high commodity prices.

"If we hadn't had the drought, which saw our milk production drop by around 4 percent, the figure could have been even higher," he said.

At a time of slowing economic growth nationally, Mr van der Heyden said confidence has never been stronger in dairying, with a record payout to farmers in 2007/08 and a strong start to the new dairy season.

"We're seeing continued investment from farmers and in our processing capacity that's a huge boost, particularly for regions like Southland with a lot of new jobs and benefits flowing through," Mr van der Heyden said.

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