Is Fonterra just too damned big? One can only wonder, given the vents of the last few days. That Fonterra had a smidgeon of knowledge way back in March that something was not quite right does indicate that there is ‘trouble at the mill.’
The NZ Government’s reaction to this on-going crisis of confidence has been swift and for one the politicians are not (so far0 trying to make political capital out of what could very easily derail the New Zealand economy.
China and Russia have reacted very quickly to the ‘doubt surrounding’ New Zealand’s clean green image and that also could spread, depending on what happens over the next few days. The fact that both countries have safety issues of their own is conveniently ignored while they heap ‘blame and suspicion’ onto all New Zealand food products. ‘Contamination’ is an emotive and very real issue of course, so I am not trying to do what I accuse the Russian and Chinese Governments of doing---shifting the focus from other issues.
The bottom line for Fonterra and New Zealand’s overall image is that food production standards must be above reproach and that when things go wrong, there must be robust strategies to find the problem and correct it whilst at the same time ensures that information that could keep people safe is not withheld.
Fonterra needs to take a long hard look at itself and not rely on what has been a long successful experience in the huge dairy industry. The directors and boards that control Fonterra are in for a hard time once the dust settles on this extremely difficult time for New Zealand. We need many of our companies to take this experience as a learning curve about the competitive world of trade, image and politics.