Fonterra receives NZ Co-operative Business of the Year award

New Zealand's largest company - a dairy co-op owned by 10,500 farmers - is one of eight organisations recognised at the 2017 CBNZ awards

New Zealand dairy co-op Fonterra has been judged the country’s Co-operative Business of the Year. The award was one of eight presented at Cooperative Business New Zealand’s Annual Awards Dinner, held on 10 August in Auckland.

Fonterra is owned by around 10,500 New Zealand farmers and is the country’s largest company, responsible for approximately 30% of the world’s dairy exports.

A “stunning financial turnaround, generous social responsibility programmes and a high-profile television campaign” which proudly proclaimed its farmer-owned, co-operative status were key factors in winning the award, said CBNZ chief executive, Craig Presland.

“With its 2016/17 payout forecast to be at least 50% up on the year before, this injects an additional $3.6bn into the NZ economy and will benefit many fellow co-operatives significantly,” he added.

“Over this period, Fonterra has completed a comprehensive co-operative governance review and raised its profile with the New Zealand public so that it is now better understood as a member-owned co-operative and not a corporate.

“It has also continued to generously support New Zealanders within the spirit of Concern for Community, a key co-operative principle. Its Milk for Schools programme, which is now in its fifth year, is the largest social responsibility programme ever driven by a Kiwi commercial business. The $10.0+ million a year initiative currently benefits more than 140,000 Kiwi kids each school day.”

Duncan Coull, chair of the Fonterra Shareholders Council, who collected the award

The award was collected by Duncan Coull, chair of the Fonterra Shareholders Council.

“Our farmer shareholders set themselves high standards, and it’s their daily hard work and commitment that drives the success of the co-op,” he said.

“I also want to recognise the energy and contribution of our staff in helping build a co-op that returns such value to shareholders, local communities and the New Zealand economy.”

Co-operatives employ more than 48,000 Kiwis and generate over NZ$43bn a year for the NZ economy. Almost one in three Kiwis is currently served by a co-operative, mutual or society as a member.

Other winners on the night were:

  • Co-operative Leader of the YearNeil Cowie, CEO Mitre 10
  • Co-operation Amongst Co-operativesOliver O’Neill, CFO Ruralco
  • Outstanding Co-operative ContributionBrian Cameron, co-operative pioneer.
  • Enduring Service AwardSBS Bank (100+ years category), established 1869
  • Enduring Service AwardLIC (100+ years category), established 1909
  • Enduring Service AwardFoodstuffs NI (75+ years category), established 1922
  • Enduring Service AwardNZPM Group (50+ years category), established 1964
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