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Fonterra Speech: Milk and Milk Products Conference

John Roadley
Chairman

Remarks at Reception for Delegates to
Codex Committee on Milk and Milk Products Conference

West Gallery
Wellington Town Hall
Wellington
New Zealand

Distinguished guests – it is my pleasure and privilege on behalf of Fonterra Co-operative Group to officially welcome you to this reception this evening and in particular to welcome to our country those who have travelled from beyond these shores.

And I would like, tonight, to make special mention of the chairman of the Codex Committee on Milk and Milk Products, Dr. Steve Hathaway from the Food Assurance Authority of the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and to acknowledge the behind-the scenes work of the Codex Committee in Rome and the New Zealand secretariat for their various but vital contributions to the success of these sessions.

Fonterra, as many of you will know, was born less than six months ago. Our co-operative company produces, manufactures and markets 98 percent of New Zealand’s milk. It is New Zealand’s biggest company and is amongst the 10 largest dairy companies in the world.

Our focus is export. Around 93 percent of New Zealand’s milk is shipped offshore. You can appreciate, therefore, that the rules and regulations governing dairy products production and marketing around the world are absolutely vital to us.

As we see it, the balancing act which Codex is called on to perform is of critical importance to the international dairy business. By setting standards which on the one hand protect the consumer without on the other creating barriers to trade, Codex creates a community of interest between producers, marketers and consumers which is mutually beneficial.

It is hardly surprising then that the WTO is strongly supportive of the role of Codex in the setting of standards for milk and milk products. The WTO recognises Codex standards as being powerful weapons in the war against unjustifiable non-tariff trade barriers

We are well aware of the difficulties Codex has to contend with in carrying out its brief. The international dairy products trade is highly competitive. Ground is seldom if ever given willingly. Advantage, no matter what its nature, is clung to tenaciously.

And we also understand the difficulties Codex faces as it endeavours to reconcile the needs of established players and those of the developing economies.

The responsibility of setting safety standards which fully protect consumers and engender confidence in dairy foods is likewise demanding. New threats to food safety keep arising and it is in the interest of both consumers and producers that these threats be tackled expeditiously and urgently.

That said I would like to commit Fonterra to work with the Codex Committee on Milk and Milk Products, and its stakeholders, to develop robust and effective standards which remove or reduce food safety standards which either facilitate or at least do not impede international trade.

It would be fair to say I think that those who labour in the realm of regulation seldom gain the recognition their efforts deserve. Your contribution is very often unseen and even less often given the recognition is deserves.

Let me tonight, in my small way, help to redress that balance on behalf of Fonterra. We acknowledge your efforts, we salute your contribution and we wish you the best for the balance of your session here in Wellington.

END

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