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Fonterra CEO: Our operations prioritised during Covid-19

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister addressed the nation on Monday, making clear that significant restrictions in NZ are in place - with a lockdown coming into force the country will only see essential services running. What does this mean for dairy giant Fonterra? CEO Miles Hurrell responds…

Essential services

On Monday, the Prime Minister announced that New Zealand's coronavirus alert has increased to level 3 and will rise to alert level 4 in 48 hours. Marking midnight today (Wednesday, 25 March) as the start of level 4. She stated, in regards to Covid-10 and the new alert levels, that those in the farming and agriculture sector who provide supermarkets with food have been classed as an essential service. "Those who are part of the food supply chain, who provide for our supermarkets, are part of our essential primary industry," said Ardern.

Other essential services include: banks, GPs, pharmacies, service stations, couriers and 'other important frontline service providers'.

Milk Tanker at Te Rapa Dairy Factory. Photo: Bruce Jarvis, Fonterra
Milk Tanker at Te Rapa Dairy Factory. Photo: Bruce Jarvis, Fonterra

"We have already been talking with Fonterra, they have been making preparations for level 3 and level 4. Likewise I had contact with Federated Farmers today," Ardern said, according to reports.

CEO: Fonterra farmers' milk and operations prioritised

“We have received advice from the Government that Fonterra is considered an essential service. As part of the food supply chain, the collection of Fonterra farmers’ milk and our operations will be prioritised,” Miles Hurrell, Fonterra CEO, told Dairy Global.

He added that Fonterra employees in the food supply chain, such as farmers, tanker drivers, manufacturing and distribution centre employees, are to keep working but follow the very strict guidance from the government to protect themselves and the community from COVID-19.

Fonterra CEO, Miles Hurrell. Photo: Lee Howell, Fonterra
Fonterra CEO, Miles Hurrell. Photo: Lee Howell, Fonterra

In terms of employees he said that all Fonterra staff who are able to work from home will do so. Our Farm Source retail stores across New Zealand will be closing their front doors to public for the time being, but people will still be able to shop online.

Non-essential businesses that will be closed include: All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public gatherings tend to take place.

Government trust

“The Government has shown a lot of trust in us to keep operating under a level 4 alert. This is a big responsibility I sincerely thank all our people who will continue to keep dairy in production for everyone’s health and nutrition during this difficult time,” he added.

Fonterra at a glance

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is a New Zealand multinational dairy co-operative owned by around 10,500 New Zealand farmers. The company is responsible for approximately 30% of the world's dairy exports and with revenue exceeding NZ$17.2 billion, and is New Zealand's largest company. For more info visit Fonterra