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China's economy is "slowly returning to normal", a fact that is reflected in last week's positive Global Dairy Trade auction, says Fonterra's Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers.

"Chinese participation [in the GDT] was pretty strong and it gives us some hope. China's experience with Covid shows us that overall demand for dairy does recover" Rivers told The Country Early Edition's Rowena Duncum.

Fonterra was also beginning to see demand for "out of home consumption" returning, as China started to open up more restaurants, said Rivers.

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The Covid-19 crisis was a good reminder of Fonterra's "ability to adapt", which was one of the co-op's key strengths, said Rivers.

"We're able to take a bucket of milk and we can decide what do we turn it into and where to send it."

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Back home it was business as usual, despite alert level 4, with Fonterra farmers' milk still being able to be safely collected and processed, said Rivers.

"Volumes for the season are not that different from where we were last year."

Rivers pointed out that when New Zealand dropped to alert level 3, Fonterra would remain with level 4 protocols to ensure the health and safety of its workers and the general public.

Also in today's interview: Rivers talked about how Covid-19 restrictions could affect the way Fonterra operated in the future.