Chinese dairy giant Yili will pay $588 million for dairy co-op Westland Milk, it was announced overnight.
Fonterra Greater China president Christina Zhu says for a long time the co-op was just an exporter with a small team based over there.
“It was just an agency model for NZ exports,” she says.
Today, Fonterra has about 1700 employees in China; 1100 people work in the 13 dairy farms.
About 500 staff form a core group looking after the co-op’s ingredients, food service and consumer businesses, working primarily in sales, marketing and distribution and supply.
Zhu joined Fonterra China seven years ago as vice-president of the ingredients business; she recalls working with around 20 staff.
“We didn’t have a marketing function, there was no supply chain or technical function either; we had a handful of junior sales staff.”
Today, Anchor UHT milk is sold in 13,000 stores nationwide. The Anchor brand fetches a higher price than most other brands and its growth is in double digits.