As the Year of the Pig starts (February 5), families will be gathering across China for the festive Chinese New Year season. And they're likely to be eating dairy products made in Northland.

Fonterra's Kauri site exported around $42.5 million in products to China for consumption in 2017/18. That's about $237 per person in Northland. And Fonterra's Maungaturoto site exported around $40.8m in products to China in 2017/18 — about $228 per person in Northland.

These made up the $83.3m in exports dispatched to China from Fonterra Northland sites, which works out to $465 per person in Northland (population: 179,100 at June 2018).

The Northland dairy exports were among some of the $3.8 billion/around 740,000 metric tonnes of product sent to China in 2017/18 from across New Zealand. Eleven per cent of all dairy in China — the world's biggest market — comes from Fonterra farmers.

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Cream, a major export from Kauri, ends up in some of the 500 million tea macchiatos made with Fonterra cream every year. Half of the cream cakes made in China use Fonterra cream. Cream cakes are increasingly popular around Chinese New Year when families gather to celebrate.

Kauri site manager Rowan Hartigan says it's a proud moment to see products made in Northland ending up on plates in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Fonterra China president Christina Zhu says: "China makes up a quarter of Fonterra's exports last year. Our dairy is consumed by around 130 million people. We're a big part of the local economy, providing jobs for the region and helping New Zealand succeed on the world stage."

Fonterra's Kauri site employs 280 operational staff and about 310 staff in total including regional and support roles based at Kauri, which collects milk from north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge all the way to the top of New Zealand, roughly 20km from North Cape.

Food for thought

* Throughout New Zealand, export earnings per cow has risen 70per cent since 2001.
* The dairy sector employs more than 38,000 people.
* Dairy farming has the highest awverage salary among agricultural industries.
* Dairy processing has the highest average salary level of New Zealand's food manufacturing industries.
* Dairy manufacturing has the fifth highest average female salary level of 138 New Zealand industries.
* Just under 80 per cent of dairy sector wages are earned in rural areas.
* Dairy farming is a top 10 employer in half of New Zealand territorial authorities.
* The dairy sector is a top 10 purchaser of output from around a third of all other New Zealand industries, which collectively account for over 40 per cent of GDP.