Global food and beverage manufacturer Nestlé sent a group of
representatives to inspect 50 randomly selected South Island
dairy farms - including some in Otago and Southland - last
The audit is part of a new pilot project between the
corporate giant and Fonterra.
However, Fonterra's global sales director Tim Deane the visit
was not linked in any way to the botulism scare last year.
''It had been on the cards for a while,'' Mr Deane said.
Nestlé, like other Fonterra customers, regularly visited
plant and factories for auditing.
However, on-farm visits in New Zealand were a first for
Mr Deane said Fonterra was ''pretty relaxed'' about being
part of the pilot, as its supplier standards were high.
''We welcome the opportunity to work with Nestlé and see it
as a positive thing.''
He said the move was just part of increasing consumer
Nestlé is one of Fonterra's biggest multinational customers
and buys a full range of dairy products. It employs about
339,000 people in more than 150 countries.
A Nestlé spokesperson said the company was working with
several major dairy companies in New Zealand, Europe and the
United States to test and finalise a protocol to assess
responsible sourcing of dairy ingredients.
''Farmers supplying each of these dairy companies will go
through the assessment process then provide feedback to our
team on the relevance and effectiveness of the protocol in
their local context,'' the spokesperson said.
''In New Zealand, we are visiting 50 farmers in the South
''The feedback from these 'first movers' will go to finalise
the protocol, which will be used to assess performance
against the Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Guidelines and help
farmers improve their practices where necessary.''
The guidelines were to ensure its ingredients, including milk
products from New Zealand, were produced responsibly and
sustainably, and that the company could give consumers and
other stakeholders information about where ingredients
originated and how they were produced.
''The quality and safety of our products are non-negotiable
priorities for Nestlé, and we set standards in these areas
for all ingredients we buy, which suppliers must meet.
''Responsible Sourcing Guidelines have been developed for 12
key materials, including dairy, focusing on particular
priority areas specific to each of these materials.
''In dairy, we focus primarily on environmental management
and animal welfare.''
The Responsible Sourcing Guidelines complement the Nestlé
Supplier Code, which applies to all materials and sets out
the standards it expects its suppliers to meet in areas such
as human rights, labour practices, environmental impacts,
conversion of natural vegetation, land use rights, animal
welfare and creation of shared value for society and local
communities and rural development.
By the end of 2014 it will have carried out 2507 assessments,
including the 50 in the South Island.
Mr Deane said it was too early to know what any of the
assessments or comments said.
''Many of the farmers were excited by the visits and were
looking forward to showcasing what they do.
''We will be interested in the feedback and how we stack up.
''It will be valuable and we are comfortable with the
process,'' he said.