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China repair job under way with next week's Fonterra board visit

Friday 30th August 2013

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Fonterra Cooperative Group's repair job with Chinese customers and officials will begin in earnest next week as the cooperative's board heads to China with chief executive Theo Spierings.

The board, led by chairman John Wilson, had been planning a visit to China in early September anyway, but the mission has taken on critical importance since the roller-coaster ride Fonterra's customers have taken over the disclosure, later disproved, of potential botulism contamination of infant milk formula.

While government ministers and company executives are playing up the appreciation by Chinese authorities of New Zealand's transparency and honesty, the issue created crisis response requirements that stretched officials, customers and the faith of customers in the all-important Chinese market.

Chief executive Theo Spierings will also accompany the mission to visit Fonterra management and key stakeholders in China.

The visit will also view progress on Fonterra's farming hub in Yutian.

"Now that it has been confirmed that there was no Clostridium botulinum in our whey protein concentrate, we need to address any remaining concerns our stakeholders in China might have," said Wilson in a statement.

"The feedback we have been getting is that people believe we did the right thing in initiating the precautionary recall, but at the same time we want to provide every assurance about our food safety and quality systems and processes.

"The visit provides an important opportunity to help rebuild trust and respect for Fonterra and New Zealand dairy products and confirm our commitment to supporting the Chinese dairy industry," said Wilson.

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