Fonterra's foodservice business - Anchor Food Professionals - has laid claim to being New Zealand's sixth biggest exporter in its own right.
With $2 billion in revenue - up 70 per cent from four years ago - the business ranks as a top export after tourism, dairy, meat, forestry and fruit, Fonterra said.
Fonterra's foodservice business was established in 2005 as a dedicated sales division to meet the specialised demands of customers in quick service restaurants, fast food outlets, cafés, restaurants, hotels, bakeries, commercial and institutional catering, and manufacturing.
The co-operative's chief operating officer, consumer and foodservice, Lukas Paravacini, said foodservice is one of the largest industries in the world and encompasses food and beverages that are consumed out of the home such as in restaurants, cafes and bakeries.
In the United States, more than 50 per cent of all spending on food and beverage is now out of the home and in China the market has grown by 30 per cent over the last five years, he said.
As a result, the global industry is predicted to be worth US$3 trillion in 2021.
"We have taken advantage of this eating out trend and currently Anchor Food Professionals is growing around 10 times faster than the global total foodservice market," he said.
Over the past four years Fonterra has invested $850 million in new production capacity for Foodservice - $700m of which has been in New Zealand.
Fonterra has expanded at Waitoa, in the Waikato, for UHT creams, Eltham in Taranaki for slice-on-slice cheese, Clandeboye in Canterbury for extra stretch mozzarella and Te Rapa in the Waikato and Darfield in Canterbury for cream cheese.
"These investments are helping us to match increasing demand for our products and ensuring that we remain on track to meet our annual revenue target of $5 billion by 2023," he said in a statement.