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Sars Changes Dairy Excellence Winners' Trip Plans

Sars Changes Dairy Excellence Winners' Trip Plans

Organisers of the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards have changed the destination of a study tour prize from Asia to South America following the SARS outbreak.

Award winners from the seven regional competitions receive a prize of a study trip to one of Fonterra's international markets, originally Malaysia and Singapore.

But awards Chairman and Fonterra Director Jim van der Poel says the venue has been moved to South America in line with the company's current travel guidelines regarding the SARS outbreak.

"Fonterra has company restrictions on traveling in some parts of Asia as a result of SARS, so it would be inappropriate to then send our winners to this area," says Mr van der Poel.

"The study trip prize is a unique opportunity for some of our best farmers to increase their understanding of Fonterra's global business and share that understanding with other dairy farmers in their regions.

"In creating Fonterra we moved from being regional manufacturing companies, with shareholders removed from the marketplace, to a leading multinational dairy company that exports 95% of our milk products. That has created the need to raise the understanding of Fonterra's international focus among both shareholders and staff - a focus now on the supply chain from the cow to the customer.

"Fonterra actually employs more staff abroad than at home and this trip is an opportunity to meet key people in those overseas operations."

Mr van der Poel says the revamped study trip will take the seven finalists to Chile and Brazil giving them "similar experiences and insights into these markets as I would as a director".

The Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards seek to promote dairy farming excellence and transfer best practice among Fonterra's supplier base.

"This trip is just such an opportunity for these award winners."

Westpac Business Banking General Manager Bruce McLachlan says the knowledge gained from the study tour will further encourage information sharing and enhance the winners' operations.

The group will visit segments of Fonterra's South American operations and learn how products are tailored for specific markets, including their packaging and supermarket displays.

In Brazil, they will meet Dairy Partners America representatives, including Operations Director Gary Romano, and visit two manufacturing plants and farm operations.

In Chile they will meet with Soprole (a Fonterra subsidiary) CEO Francisco Gana, visit a Soprole factory, view Fonterra's operations and meet key Fonterra operations staff.

The group departs on June 13, returning on June 21 in time to attend the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards national final in Hamilton on June 27 where one of the seven finalists will win prizes worth more than $50,000.

The awards are supported by Dexcel and sponsored by Fonterra, Westpac, Holden, Ravensdown, DTS, Livestock Improvement, Pioneer, RD1 and Fegan and Co.

Tickets for the national final cost $95 per person and are available on 0800 273 759.

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