Fonterra: no Chinese milk coming to Aus

Fonterra logo

An NZX announcement today celebrated a partnership between Fonterra and A2 Milk Co. It also seemed to suggest that Fonterra had plans to put Chinese milk on retail shelves in Australia and New Zealand. Not surprisingly, farmers took a great interest!

Milk Maid Marian is grateful to Fonterra Australia’s Matt Watt for setting the record straight.

MMM: Fonterra’s NZX announcement states: “The partnership encompasses…Exclusive period to explore a2MC branded butter and cheese, and China sourced liquid milk for sale in Australia, New Zealand and China. These relate to other dairy products not presently marketed by a2MC and would be complementary to Fonterra’s existing portfolio of dairy products.”
Will Chinese milk be sold on retail shelves in Australia and NZ under the agreement?

MW: There are no plans to sell Chinese milk on retail shelves in Australia. The China sourced liquid milk under this partnership would be retained in China for sale there.


MMM: Which other Chinese dairy products will be sold here?

MW: No products


MMM: Why will the milk be sourced from China?

MW: For fresh milk, it makes sense to source the milk in country if possible – in China we can do this for the local market and be confident on our quality control on our farms there.


MMM: Problems surrounding Beingmate, which has a large stake in Fonterra’s Darnum plant are well publicised. Will Darnum process less nutritional product in the future?

MW: As an investor in Beingmate, we are disappointed with their performance, and this is being worked through by the Co-op as one of the higher priorities to get the investment back on track.
However, Darnum is running well and the plant is almost at full capacity which is why we’re investing to unlock more capacity. In the last two years we’ve seen nutritional volumes treble at Darnum, and this partnership with the a2MC enables us to further grow volumes with confidence.


MMM: Will farmers with A2 milk be preferred suppliers in Gippsland?

MW: We now need to work through the plan to develop the A2 milk pool here in Australia. This is an important step for us but we also need to be clear that our broader milk pool and cheese/whey/nutritionals strategy remains at the core of what we do so all suppliers of high quality milk are valued by Fonterra.

About A2 milk

Thank you to Fussy Eater’s Mum for asking about A2 milk, which has been expertly marketed in Australia as the solution to everything from autism through to digestive discomfort.

First, what is a2 milk? A trademark owned by A2 Dairy Products Australia, a2 milk is a brand of milk sourced from cows that only produce one particular type of protein. As the company explains on its website:

“Most dairy milk today contains 2 main types of beta-casein protein, A2 and A1, while originally all dairy cows produced milk containing only the A2 type of beta-casein protein. a2 Milk™ comes from cows specially selected to produce A2 beta-casein protein rather than A1. Because a2 Milk™ is rich in A2 beta-casein protein, it may assist with your digestive wellbeing.

Regular milk is about 60 per cent A2 beta-casein protein and 40 per cent A1 beta-casein protein.

Dairy Australia, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and the European Food Safety Authority reject the claims that milk containing A1 beta-casein protein poses any cause for concern.

Unfortunately, there is also a perception that milk containing only A2 proteins can be tolerated by those with cows milk allergies. Not so, according to a study by AllergySA reported in the Medical Journal of Australia. To be fair, even A2 Dairy Products Australia warns on its site that: “If you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance by your doctor, a2 Milk™ will not resolve any digestion problems.”

It seems milk containing only A2 beta-casein protein is no silver bullet for those missing out on a refreshing glass of milk due to allergy. If you do suspect an intolerance or allergic reaction to dairy products,  I really recommend taking a look at the very informative fact sheets on cows milk allergy by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Dairy Australia.