Friday, 28 September 2012 16:21

Spierings gets the tick from farmers

Written by 

FONTERRA CHIEF executive Theo Spierings is expected to announce this week that the co-op’s annual revenues have for the first time exceeded $20 billion. The achievement caps Spierings first year at the helm of the co-op. 

While some farmers believe the jury is still out on his performance, the Dutchman has received a tick from the Fonterra Shareholders Council and South Canterbury farmer, Eddie Glass, a fierce critic of TAF (trading among farmers).

 Glass, who spearheaded a campaign to reject TAF, believes Spierings has performed “very well”. “He will go on to do big things for the co-op,” he told Dairy News.

Spierings took over as chief executive in the midst of divisive debate by shareholders of the proposed share trading scheme. In his first few months at the co-op Spierings expressed surprise at shareholders debating TAF in public rather than “keeping it within the family”.

Glass believes Spierings played a key role in the second TAF vote, where 34% of votes were cast again the scheme. “I believe his job had become untenable; he was spending so much time in the politics of TAF.” Glass says Spierings has won his support and he looks forward to “great things from him”.

Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman Ian Brown says while the council has not rated Spierings’ performance, he believes he is on the right track. Spierings earlier this year outlined his strategy refresh for the co-op, focussing on three Vs: volume, value and velocity.

Brown says the strategy refresh will take time but early indications are pointing to a positive outcome. “There is a real positive feeling in the air when you enter the Fonterra offices,” he says.

But not everyone is quick to give Spierings the tick.

Farmers probably haven’t seen enough of Spierings, or the results of his work, to make a call on his performance to date, says Feds Dairy chair Willy Leferink. “He’s been busy restructuring the business and as yet we don’t know if that’s for better or worse.”

However, there are high hopes it will deliver despite commodity market fluctuations, economic difficulties – notably in the US and Europe – and the high New Zealand dollar. “He’s trying to row a boat in a very difficult economic environment,” acknowledges Leferink.

The fact Fonterra will this week probably announce an annual turnover not less than $20 will be quite an achievement, but the big question will be what profit will drop out of that?

“I’ve no idea. Commodities are cheaper now which usually means profit increases and the half-year forecast looked good. I’ve not got super-big expectations but certainly some hope of a good result.”

Leferink says over the year he’s had two face-to-face meetings with the new chief executive, both of them about the Trading Among Farmers issue, which were “quite contentious”. Other than that he hasn’t had a great deal to do with him. Fonterra’s annual results will be announced on Wednesday.

More like this

Is he the right Guy for Fonterra?

Former Primary Industries Minister and Fonterra board aspirant Nathan Guy believes his relationships with bureaucrats in Wellington will help the co-op’s farmers immensely.

Fonterra back in the black

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and a strong milk price.


Look out for rural communities - RWNZ

Rural Women NZ is calling for a commitment to improving the health and well-being of rural families and enhancing rural communities’ reliance from all candidates at this year’s general election.


Prices expected to wax and wane

Expect more of the same as dairy prices on Global Dairy Trade (GDT) broke a two-month drought and posted an increase last week.

Beef+Lamb pushing for changes

Farmer-good organisation Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) says it will continue to advocate for changes to the new fresh water regulations.


Live cattle exports in limbo

The fate of 28,000 cows in quarantine in New Zealand and supposedly destined for China in the coming weeks hangs…

Farm values down — REINZ

A floating and volatile situation – that’s how the Real Estate Institute of NZ rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke describes the…

Putting farmers first

The NZ agriculture sector is more than just a job for CRV Ambreed’s new managing director James Smallwood.

Graziers quitting!

Some Southland farmers who graze dairy cattle in winter say they will not do it next year.

Machinery & Products

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

Simmm twin water blasters

Italian made Simmm Power Cleaner 100/11 and Power Gun 100/11 single-phase (230 volt) electric water blasters are proving popular in…

OPD argument raging on

A stoush is brewing with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) heavily criticising Farmsafe Australia’s recent Safer Farm Report.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Cows and earthquakes

OPINION: It has long been suggested that animals have senses that humans don’t, and often behave differently than usual shortly…

Battle is on

OPINION: One of Australia’s biggest dairy businesses is back on the market after the Federal Government knocked back a bid…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter