Green, green grass
New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra’s “secret weapon is vast acres of clean grass.” “What we’re very good at in New Zealand is growing good, high-quality grass,” says area manager of Fonterra’s South Taranaki site Rod O’Beirne. “We have high-quality dairy cattle to eat that grass. And we’re very efficient at managing that process. It’s the cheapest feed by far for animals. That’s our competitive advantage.” Over at Fonterra’s Innovation Center in Palmerston North, researchers spend NZ$100 million a year looking into new ways to deliver dairy and figuring out how to reduce Fonterra’s carbon footprint. That’s the biggest private sector R&D budget in New Zealand. “Here in New Zealand, Fonterra’s core strategy is to remain efficient, sustainable and low-cost so we’ll have dairy farming in the long-term,” adds Fonterra’s CEO Andrew Ferrier. “We also recognise that you can’t just be a supplier from one country, because the buyer will say, ‘What if they have a problem with cows, or biosecurity?’ So where it’s been practical, we’ve invested in other countries so that we can supply customers with milk from those countries as opposed to just New Zealand, so it becomes very complementary.” Fonterra was founded in 2001.