North American dairy lobby, the Milk Producers Council, has conceded that Fonterra's big regular online auctions of milk powders and other dairy products may be providing a reliable global benchmark for international dairy markets.
An executive of the council, John Kaczor, said it could be considered one of the more reliable indications of international supply and demand.
He noted the decision by the NZX, to use Fonterra's prices at the globaldairytrade online auctions every fortnight as the basis for cash settling newly launched dairy futures contracts.
The globaldairytrade auctions, which trade some 600,000 tonnes of Fonterra products a year, had run up sales of $3.2 billion since they were launched in July 2008.
The auction had more than 300 registered bidders, in 58 countries, but Fonterra had so far had little success in persuading Northern Hemisphere dairy giants to also sell products online.