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Last week Fonterra released its long-term strategy, which outlined the co-op's aspirations out to 2030.
One vital aspect of the strategy was to be a leader in dairy innovation and science, Asia-Pacific CEO for Fonterra, Judith Swales said.
"What it really means is we'll use our expertise to help solve problems for our customers and our consumers - particularly when we think about them living healthier and longer lives," Swales told The Country Sport Breakfast's Brian Kelly.
Some types of food, and in particular dairy, can help with issues such as cognition, immunity and even stress.
With this in mind, Fonterra aimed to increase its current total spend in Research and Development and innovation by over 50 per cent - to around $160 million annually by 2030, which was "a big step up," Swales said.
"We know that dairy innovation and science is one area where we can carve out more of a leadership position ... so we've got a dedicated team looking at how we can build a competitive advantage."
There were also opportunities to create value from nutrition science, which dealt with diet and how it impacted people's bodies and behaviour, Swales said.
Fonterra had seen a rise of consumer solutions targeting specific health and wellness trends that was backed by nutrition science, she explained.
"For example, imagine if there was a way to quickly understand your gut health and then being able to select the probiotic that's right - just for you."
Some of Fonterra's ingredients already played into these solutions – including complex lipids which helped with cognition, proteins that aided mobility and probiotics that supported immunity and digestion, Swales said.
"We are aiming to play more boldly in this space, unlocking that growth potential of our already advanced specialty ingredients and really going to that next level."
Alongside being at the forefront of dairy innovation and science, the co-op also aimed to lead in sustainability, Swales said.
"This really means striving for a better future than what we have today, especially when we look at the environment."
New Zealand was in the unique position of being the lowest carbon producing dairy nation on the planet and Fonterra wanted to further this progress, Swales said.
"We're not going to slow down. Our customers and consumers, they want to know where their food comes from and are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impact it leaves behind."
This meant it was important Fonterra continued to support the hard work of its farmers to reduce the environmental impact of their businesses, Swales said.
"We know farmers' livelihoods depend on producing good quality milk - but that relies on a stable climate and healthy ecosystems."
The co-op aims to be Net Zero carbon by 2050 and intends to invest around $1 billion in sustainability initiatives over the next decade.
"Much of this will go to upgrading core manufacturing assets. We want to decarbonise our footprint and improve water use and water quality."
Fonterra also had to "solve the methane challenge" in order to maintain its relative carbon footprint advantage, Swales said.
Also in today's interview: Swales talked about Fonterra's ownership options for its Australian business.