Celebrations have been underway around the world to celebrate the festive Chinese New Year season — welcoming the Year of the Pig.

In China itself those celebrations are likely to have included family feasts including dairy produced in Waipa's Fonterra plants.

Fonterra's Te Awamutu site exported around $175 million in products to China for consumption in 2017/18. That's about $12,500 per person in Te Awamutu.

Fonterra's Hautapu site exported around $13 million in products to China for consumption in 2017/18.


Across the Waikato Fonterra's latest figures show exports of $1.2 billion of dairy products to China last financial year, working out to about $2500 per person in Waikato.

Nationally, this equates to 31 per cent of the $3.8 billion / around 740,000 metric tonnes of product sent to China in 2017/18 from across New Zealand.

Fonterra China president Christina Zhu says China made up a quarter of Fonterra's exports last year.

"Our dairy is consumed by around 130 million people," she says.

"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 Te Awamutu plant has its roots in the North Island's first co-operative commercial dairy factory opened in the town in 1882.

Te Awamutu site manager Marc Carney says during the peak season the Manufacturing site tankers in three million litres of white milk, one million litres of regional cream and 750,000 litres of buttermilk from other regional sites — per day.

The Te Awamutu manufacturing driers produce Skim milk, Buttermilk and Wholemilk powder whilst the cream plant produces Bulk Butter (Salted and Unsalted) and Anhydrous Milk Fat (AMF).


The Te Awamutu site manufactures Milk powder and Bulk Butter from August through to March/April and AMF manufacturing almost all year round.

Te Awamutu employs about 260 staff — peaking at about 300 during the season.

Butter and Skim Milk Powder were major exports from Fonterra's Te Awamutu site to China, which will also end up in many of the traditional dishes of the new year celebrations.

Marc says all the Te Awamutu site is aligned to commodity products and as such are manufacturing bulk goods.

Butter, AMF and Milk Powder are most widely used as an ingredient in dairy based products or other food products.

The Hautapu site has about 300 employees and has been a leader in dairy manufacturing for over 120 years.

It's the headquarters of Fonterra's protein and cheese technical teams in New Zealand, their only producer of the special high-value milk protein lactoferrin and the only organic cheese producer.

More than 90 per cent of China's leading bakery chains choose Fonterra butter and half the pizzas in China are made with Fonterra cheese.

Liquid Milk Anchor UHT is number one imported brand in China and over 500 McDonald's restaurants across China are using Fonterra milk powder to make 37.5 million vanilla soft serve icecreams per year.

Cream is also a major export from Fonterra sites to China, which ends up in some of the 500 million tea macchiatos made with Fonterra cream every year and half of the cream cakes made in China — one of the popular family dishes for Chinese New Year.