The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 8

Page 8 Sunday, November 16, 2014 The Nation
ne of the striking features
of a country as beautiful as
New Zealand is just how laid
back the natives are. It’s almost as if
they are horizontal. They are generally
chatty andwould even crack jokeswith
a stranger. Being friendly is just part of
their nature.
The Kiwis have a phenomena they
call the ‘Number 8 wire’. The ‘Number
8 wire’ is a legend named after a type
of fencingwire that farmers used to tie
hooks, aerials, etc. They had so much
of it they used it to fix almost anything.
But this is more than a wire.
If you’ve ever traveled around New
Zealand, it’s very likely you’d hear of
‘Kiwi ingenuity’ at least once. This folk-
lore is strain of New Zealand culture
that has become an indispensable part
of their national psyche. New Zealand-
ers are gifted with the ability to think
laterally and never concede defeat.
“We did everything we could,” was
the candid response, Nathan Guy, the
Minister of Primary Industries gave
when we caught him off guard at a
cocktail function recently in Colombo.
He was referring to the Dicyandiamide
controversy which Fonterra, New Zea-
land’s multi-national dairy co-opera-
tive dairy was embroiled in. “We used
all government channels here in Sri
Lanka to tell our side of the story, but
the issue became politicized.”
“I believe we could do more, know-
ing all that we know now,” he added.
Unfortunately, for Fonterra, the
Number 8 wire couldn’t mitigate a cri-
siswhich eventuallybecame front page
news. While publications across the
world were fierce with their reportage
on Anchor Milk Powder being tainted
with DCD, Fonterra was hardly vocal.
For those who work at Fonterra, a
seismic psychological shift was in or-
der, one that still in work-in-progress.
Meanwhile, South of Auckland, in
the countryside of Karaka, its busi-
ness as usual for Graham and Murry
Shaw, who own the Bella Vista farm situated
on a sprawling 140 milking hectares of land.
The brothers manage the day-to-day work
at the farm, which currently has 500 Friesian
cows. The Kiwis invented the bale rotary cow
shed and know all to well how to manage it.
Bella Vista
Bella Vista Farm produces 200,000 Kgs of
milk solids annually. Although Bella Vista is
many of the hundreds of farms that supply
their milk to Fonterra, their regulations and
guidelines do not differ. At the farm itself, the
farmers run a variety of animal health tests
periodically to ensure their cattle is in good
health. Rawmilk test and environmental tests
are also compulsory, as a violation of the rule
bears grave consequences for the owner, with
fines are hefty and procedures lengthy.
If that is not enough, randommilk tests are
done in accordance with the National Con-
taminants Program.
“Temperature control is optimal impor-
tance,” says Murry. “If the milk is not stored
at this prescribed temperature, we not only
have to throw out tones of milk which we
collected which would certainly dampen our
earnings for that month, but we have to put
up with hefty penalties.”
Meanwhile, once themilk is drawn into the
tanker, a pre-loading temperature and inhibi-
tory substance test are meticulously done.
Samples from each farm are then sent to the
Milk Test NZ.
Milk Test NZ
Milk Test NZ is a laboratory operated by
the South Auckland Independent Testing So-
ciety. Over 97percent of New Zealand’s dairy
farmsupplier samples are tested here, includ-
ing all of Fonterra’s.
Here at Milk Test NZ, Chief Operation Of-
ficer, Margaret Malloch runs a tight shipwith
stringent checks on every incoming sample.
MilkTestNZensuresqualitycontrol, through
various tests ranging from environmental,
functionality, microbiological, chimerical
composition, flavor and foreign matter.
Research center
Adjoining Milk Test NZ is Fonterra’s very
own fully-fledged research center. During
a media familiarization tour organized and
hosted by Fonterra, we were given a tour of
the facility and were surprised to find that
several staffers were Sri Lankans.
Milk Test NZ and Fonterra’s Research Cen-
ter are both located in Palmerstone North.
This facility, one of the largest research and
development centers in the world, is where
breakthroughs in dairy science are churned
into ingredients and final products. Sri Lank-
ans would be familiar with the Dr10 pro-bi-
otic which is present in Newdale Yoghurt
as well as Anlene – both of which are dairy
Te Rapa
Among the many things, the picturesque
town of Te Rapa is known for the Fonterra Te
Rapa Factory is considered the town’s jewel
and a showpiece of Fonterra’s dairy indus-
Located in Waikato, one of the largest
farming communities, Te Rapa churns out
20percent of all the company’s whole and
skimmilk powders.
The plant has four driers, with the largest
being able to generate 21 tones of milk pow-
der per hour. It is from here, the ubiquitous
Blue and Red Anchor label gets made and ex-
ported to Sri Lanka.
Te Rapa has consistently maintained its
reputation for producing the highest quality
of dairy products tailored to meet country
specifications. The HACCP plans are an in-
tegral part of Te Rapa Product Safety Risk
Management Program, and are certified
to the internationally-recognized standard
The site which process more than 8 million
liters of milk per day also churns out cream
products such as butter, anhydrous milk,
cream cheese and frozen cream for interna-
tional markets.
DCD issue
In September 2012, traces of 2-Cyanogua-
nidine, a fertilizer commonly referred to as
DCD, which is used to slowdown nitrate from
leaching into streams, was found in some
milk samples.
Fonterra, Federated Farmers and the Gov-
ernment moved quickly to reassure the pub-
lic and overseas buyers that it posedno health
risks. Managing Director of Fonterra Brands
Sri Lanka, Leon Clement reiterated several
times that DCD had not been listed as a food
safety issue and that no milk food produced
by Fonterra in 2012 had DCD in it.
During a press briefing, he cited that Inde-
pendent and accredited laboratories have car-
ried out 202 tests on Fonterra products in Sri
Lanka and found no traces of DCD ever.
On August 16, 2013 the court here banned
the sale and advertising of all Fonterra prod-
ucts in Sri Lanka after health authorities
cried foul denouncing that Fonterra halt mis-
leading advertisements and campaigns.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has said
tests by Sri Lanka’s Industrial Technology
Institute found DCD in some Fonterra milk
powders, and it had ordered their recall. Fon-
terra in a flurry added that the results by ITT
had been analyzed by an independent and in-
ternationally-recognized expert Prof Brynn
Hibbert, who found that testing method used
by ITI cannot accurately confirm whether
there is DCD in milk powder products.
If a dose of DCD crisis wasn’t enough, Fon-
terra had yet another issue to deal withwhich
came in the form of botulism.
On August 3, 2013, authorities in New Zea-
land announced a global recall of up to 1,000
tones of dairy products after tests turned up a
type of bacteria that could cause botulism.
Products included were infant formula,
sports drinks, protein drinks and other bev-
erages. Among the affected countries, Sri
Lanka too had been listed.
However, in late August 2013, laboratory
test results revealed that the bacteria found in
the whey protein concentrate manufactured
by Fonterra was not the botulism-causing
Clostridium botulinum.
It reigned in a sense of shared relief that
the products were not tainted, whilst Fonter-
ra chief executive Theo Spierings defended
the company saying that ‘food safety was
their number one priority.”
Lessons learned
However, by the time Fonterra woke up to
the news of a false positive and communi-
cated it to the rest of the world, the damage
to the company’s credibility, and its product
was already done. At least in Sri Lanka, sales
volume fell by 33percent.
According to their Interim Financial re-
sults, ‘volume growth of 3 percent was con-
strained by Sri Lanka business, which was
significantly impacted by a temporary sus-
pension of its market operations.’
Fonterra’s popular brand Anchor com-
mands over 60 percent market share in the
country’s dairy milk powder industry. Ac-
cording to reports, Sri Lanka’s actions last
year were widely seen as an impetus to pres-
sure Fonterra into promoting local dairy
farmers and liquid milk.
“The last two years and every issue that
we’ve had to deal with, has been a learning
curve for us,” said Greg McCullough, Group
Director for Food Safety and Quality at the
This past week, Fonterra hosted a founda-
tion stone laying ceremony for the company’s
newest state-of-the-art milk chilling center in
Gampaha. This center is part of Fonterra’s
commitment to growing and developing the
Sri Lankan dairy industry.
Another Kiwi ingenuity? It’s all in the
Number 8 wire.
From grass to glass
The Fonterra way
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