Chocolate production to drop in winter

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 07:53 13/02/2013

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Cadbury has indicated it will no longer take winter milk - with its significant premium - from Fonterra, a Federated Farmers regional chairman says.

The chocolate maker says the Dunedin factory is changing its production schedule so it would need less milk during winter, but it would not lose staff and the same amount would be produced, just at different times.

"Total production remains the same," a Cadbury spokeswoman said.

"There's no change to jobs or anything like that. Just to reassure on that, there are no job impacts."

The same supplier would be used.

Winter is the dairy off-season, making milk much more expensive.

Federated Farmers North Otago dairy chairman Lyndon Strang said Fonterra had told him the long-running winter milking contracts in Otago and Southland for Cadbury were unlikely to be renewed when they ran out.

The contracts had a significant premium, of up to 50 per cent, because of the cost of extra feed and other difficulties in milking out of season, he said.

The contracts are for supply during between May 15 and August 1.

The effect on farmers would be minimal, as Fonterra was obliged to collect all milk from shareholders' farms and the farmers would move toward the usual milking schedule, he said.

Strang used to supply winter milk a few years ago, but no longer does.

Cadbury would not say whether the factory would shut down for three winter months or how much less milk would be taken during winter.

However, Service and Food Workers Union food sector spokesman Chas Muir, who represents about 200 Cadbury factory workers, said he had heard nothing about potential changes or shut- down periods.

Cadbury was good at keeping the union abreast of changes that affected workers, he said.

If the factory were to have a close- down period, Cadbury would have to speak to the union and they had not, he said, "so I'd be very surprised if something cropped up".

The day to day running was Cadbury's business, Muir said, and he would not expect them to discuss things such as milk supply arrangements with the union.

Fonterra confirmed three meetings were held on Thursday with Southland and Otago farmers regarding milk supply to Cadbury.

However, it would not elaborate on what was discussed.

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- The Press

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