[1 July/NZ Herald]

According to Fonterra Chief Operating Officer, Kelvin Wickham, the co-operative is unlikely to need to spend large on another whole milk powder plant for a long time. He confirmed that the Lichfield milk powder dryer was only used over the peak three to four months of the dairy year just ended. He said returns from protein and cheese products were better so they utilised other plants in the Waikato. They expect to run it longer this year. The Lichfield plant was built to provide central North Island processing flexibility depending on whole milk powder prices. Fonterra had 96 processing plants on 30 sites across New Zealand. It had the capacity to cope with a big milk influx, and also had choices about where to send milk for processing into the most profitable products. He noted they were comfortable with their buffer capacity and milk was going to grow so the buffer would decline.