Fonterra has made a strong start to the dairy season and has more than 150 seasonal vacancies in its processing division spread throughout the country, director of manufacturing, Alan van der Nagel says.
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Alan van der Nagel has started his fourth season as director of manufacturing for Fonterra.

The processing jobs at 30 manufacturing sites are among 770 current vacancies throughout Fonterra, including corporate roles, technicians, field staff and working in the Farm Source stores.

“We do gear up for the peak milk processing demand and we are looking for a wide range of skills and abilities,” van der Nagel said.

“We give the appropriate training and there are opportunities for re-skilling at a time when a lot of people are out of work.”

Farmers are also looking for more than 500 employees by advertising on the Farm Source website.

All North Island plants have begun processing or are on standby to begin when local farmers reach the required milk flows.

The big and small plants in the South Island started taking milk during the first week of August, except for Edendale, Southland, which is later to begin.

Edendale would start with just one dryer operating and steadily build to its capacity of 14 million litres a day through several manufacturing units including four dryers.

Some rearrangement of processing over winter was partly a result of covid-19 requirements, he said.

Approvals were needed to designate contractors as essential workers.

The production of high-value nutraceuticals at the Waitoa plant, Waikato, was boosted during the off-season and that commissioning is underway.

Fonterra Whareroa in Taranaki, with its nine plants, was extensively renovated during the winter shutdown and is now operating again.

More than enough capacity exists across the country to cope with the 85m litres a day peak milk expectation in three months’ time, and to provide product options where required.

In recent times capital expenditure has favoured value-add products and energy conversions, rather than the capacity increases of previous years.

“However, the bulk of my capital expenditure is spent on essential maintenance,” van der Nagel said.

Two specialty milk pools, A2 and organic, are operating this season mainly in Waikato with 60-70 certified supply farms in each.

The A2 volume is governed by the two-year-old agreement with the A2 Milk Company and is mainly fresh milk supply and some ingredients manufacturing.

The opening forecast for organic supply is $8.75/kg milksolids, more than $2 ahead of the $6.40 mid-point of the standard milk forecast range.

“Pasture-based organic milk has the strongest message for Fonterra in terms of grass-fed and animal welfare,” the company said in a statement.

“Renewed focus on health and wellness of consumers and the planet has been a result of covid-19.

“Restrictions on eating out have also brought increased spending on organics at retail.”

Fonterra’s milk collection for June was up 2.7% from June 2019, although in total the month produced only 1% of the season’s expectation.

The South Island had a very strong beginning, up 16%, as a relatively mild June allowed pastures to recover.

In New Zealand the 2020 seasonal collection, ended May, was 1517m kg milksolids, down 0.4% on the prior season, and the forecast for the 2021 season is 1525m kg, an increase of 0.5%.

The full 2019-20 season collection, ended June, for Fonterra Australia was 107.8m kg, down 11.8% compared with the previous season.

With a third of dairy farms seeking to fill vacancies ahead of calving season, Kiwis are being encouraged to give dairy farming a chance.

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