Although the Global Dairy Trade Auction has been rising for some time now, the impressive result overnight caught Fonterra's chief executive Miles Hurrell off guard.

The GDT price index jumped by 8.3 per cent - its biggest lift since November 2016 and the fourth consecutive gain at the twice-monthly auction.

"Really surprising quite frankly. No one saw a number of this magnitude" Hurrell told The Country's Rowena Duncum.

Whole Milk Powder (WMP) prices were "the star of the show" said Hurrell, rising 14 per cent to US$3208 a tonne and back to where they were in late January of this year.

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Despite this impressive jump, Hurrell advised people not to get "too excited" by the WMP prices.

Fonterra had put out excess product "for an immediate shipment on GDT last night", which resulted in "a bit of a flurry in that first event" said Hurrell.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell. Photo / Dean Purcell
Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell. Photo / Dean Purcell

"[This] suggests to me that some of our customers out there had caught themselves short - had seen Covid having an impact on their business - but things had bounced back faster than what they'd realised I think".

As a result, Hurrell said people "shouldn't get too excited about 14 per cent".

"I think we just need to acknowledge that we did see a bit of a flurry early on which drove that price up".

However, Hurrell said there were still "signs of life" coming back post-Covid, especially in the foodservice market in China.

"We are starting to see industries by and large pick up again which I think have supported these numbers last night".

Listen below:

Other GDT results:

Skim milk powder, which also has a strong bearing on the milk price, rose by 3.5 per cent to US$2694 a tonne.

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Among the other Fonterra reference products, butter rose by 3 per cent to US$3717 a tonne, butter milk powder by 3.8 per cent to US$2417 a tonne, and cheddar by 3.3 per cent a tonne to US$3762 a tonne.

Anhydrous milk fat prices fell by 0.2 per cent to US$3981/tonne.

The 2020/21 season started on June 1, and volume is typically low at this time of year.
Production usually peaks over October and November.

Fonterra has set a wide $5.40 to $6.90 per kg milk price for 2020/21.

Also in today's interview: Hurrell discussed the product volume "ramp up" from the previous auction, how Fonterra farmers are feeling post-lockdown and why job seekers should consider a career in dairy.