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Fonterra buys into Lithuanian dairy company

Fonterra has spent $11.5 million to take a 10 per cent shareholding in Lithuania's biggest dairy producer, AB Rokiskio Suris.

The co-operative said the move would secure a supply line of high-value whey ingredients while opening up product options across Europe and the Middle East, and give it more opportunities to produce higher value products from New Zealand milk.

The investment is in line with Fonterra's strategy to grow its global sources of milk in strategic locations.

Chairman John Wilson said in a statement the investment would enable the co-op to further optimise the use of New Zealand milk and milk products.

"Our New Zealand farmers will always remain our primary source of milk, but increasingly we are supporting our growth and their returns through strategic partnerships in Europe, Latin America, Australia and China.

"These partnerships enable us to produce products in demand closer to the market, while providing more opportunity for milk and milk products we make elsewhere."

Chief executive Theo Spierings said the two companies had enjoyed a five-year commercial relationship and had built a strong relationship.

"Through this investment we have increased our access to high-value whey protein ingredients at a time of rising demand for these products, especially in Eastern and Western European, Middle Eastern and North African markets," he said.

Rokiskio has three factories in Lithuania and makes cheese, butter, whey protein and milk powders. It is one of the largest and most well-known cheese producers in Central and Eastern Europe, producing more than 30 thousand tonnes of cheese each year.

The company exports to both Eastern and Western markets, as well as producing a wide range of fresh dairy products for the Baltic region.

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