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Fonterra plays up clean, green credentials

Fonterra plays up clean, green credentials with new food quality seal

By Jonathan Underhill

Nov. 4 (BusinessDesk) - Fonterra Cooperative Group, which last week suspended an agreement with a Chinese distributor after its products were sold after their expiry date in the secondary market, has unveiled what it calls a food quality seal.

The addition to Fonterra's branded products of the "Fonterra Trusted Goodness" seal is being rolled out worldwide today, including 1 litre and 2L bottles of Anchor fresh milk sold in New Zealand, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. The label also says "From Pure New Zealand," which plays on Tourism New Zealand's 100% Pure branding.

Consumers globally value high quality, safe and healthy food from trusted sources and "are prepared to pay a premium for them," said Jacqueline Chow, chief operating officer, global consumer and foodservice. "Consumers want to know more about where their food comes from and that it is produced by businesses using sustainable and ethical practices. They actively seek out products they can trust to feed their families and that come with these benefits."

Police in Shanghai last week arrested 19 people suspected of repackaging expired New Zealand milk powder and Fonterra later confirmed it had suspended an agreement with China's Jiawai. The New Zealand company has been extremely sensitive about its reputation for food safety in the Chinese market since the 2008 melamine scandal and subsequent safety issues, while for their part Chinese consumers, who see imported dairy as safer, have had counterfeit milk products foisted on them, fakes of reputable brands such as Fonterra's Chinese partner Beingmate.

The new labelling hails Fonterra's farmers as environmental progressives. Chow said the farmers have spent more than $1 billion on environmental initiatives over the past five years.

"They’ve fenced 97 percent of defined waterways on their farms, developed nitrogen management systems to reduce leaching, and spent more than $8 million on research into emissions-reducing technologies," she said. "All of their good work on-farm, combined with New Zealand’s natural, grass-fed advantage, the cooperative’s focus on traceability, food safety and quality supported by Fonterra’s farmers and employees has helped to build credibility behind the Trusted Goodness seal," she said.

A spokeswoman said the seal wasn't adding new safety, traceability or copy-proof elements to Fonterra's branded packaging. "It's more about telling their customers where their milk comes from."

The global rollout is expected to take some months, starting with the US, China and Malaysia, and it would be years befoe all Fonterra's product bore the seal.

(BusinessDesk)

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