[25 May/The Country]

Fonterra has approached Westland Milk Products suppliers to switch loyalties with the promise of better returns. Federated Farmers President for the region, Peter Langford, said it was known that Westland suppliers had been talking to Fonterra as it tried to secure supply on the West Coast. He expected some suppliers would switch because they no longer had the same loyalty to Westland after years of low payouts. He added Westland needed to get better at the job they do quickly to retain its current suppliers. It was critical to their future. Dairy Sector Chairwoman, Renee Rooney, said West Coast farming had dealt with several disruptions in the past season including cyclones and the uncertain direction of Westland Milk Products. Westland had a proud history of loyal shareholders but needed to work hard to ensure those relationships were firmly cemented. Westland Milk Chairman, Peter Morrison, said they were aware of approaches by Fonterra to a number of shareholders.