Fonterra has announced it has reduced its forecast farmgate milk price for the 2017/18 season from $6.75 to $6.40/kgMS, the equivalent of 27.8c/l in Irish constituents.
It also updated the market on its financial results for the first three months of the 2018 financial year.
Chairman John Wilson said the lower forecast farmgate milk price reflects a “prudent approach to ongoing volatility in the global dairy market”.
The Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder (WMP) is a big influencer of the farmgate milk price and it has declined by almost 10% since 1 August 2017.
“While the result of the arbitration with Danone has impacted our earnings guidance for the season, it has no influence on our forecast farmgate milk price.
“What is driving this forecast is that despite demand for dairy remaining strong, particularly in China, other parts of Asia and Latin America, we are seeing strong production out of Europe and continued high levels of EU intervention stockpiles of skim milk powder.
“This downward pressure on global prices is being partly offset by the lower NZ-US dollar exchange rate,” Wilson said.
Confidence in demand
Wilson said that Fonterra’s strong financial position, customer order book at this point in the year, and confidence in demand means that the board is able to increase the payments made in January by 10c/kgMS and will hold the advance rate through to the payments in May.
“In effect, our farmers will receive equal or higher payments for their milk over this period than were scheduled under the previous $6.75 milk price.”
Fonterra has also updated its full season New Zealand milk collection forecast due to ongoing challenging weather conditions.
The co-op has reduced its forecast by 1% to 1.525m kgMS – the same volume as last season.
Revenues in the first quarter at Fonterra were up 4% on the same period last year to NZ$4 billion.
Sales volumes are down 20% to 3.9 billion liquid milk equivalent (LME), while the gross margin of 16.7% is also down, it said in a trading update.
Chief Executive Theo Spierings says the first quarter financial results were generally as expected as the co-op started the year with record low inventory followed by the second year of low spring milk collections from New Zealand due to wet weather.
“This has challenged our Ingredients business where we had lower volumes to sell. As a result, sales were down 19% to 3.6 billion LMEs compared to the same time last year.
“The gross margin in ingredients was in line with the second half of last year.”
However, when we compare it to the same period last year it was down from 12.1% to 8.1%, mainly due to the rise in commodity prices.
“Our consumer and food service business continued with strong sales volumes in our key markets across both Greater China and Asia with, overall, just a 3% decline to 1.3 billion LMEs in total volume compared to the record levels at the same time last year.
“Gross margin in consumer and food service was 24%. While this is down on the 31% in the first quarter of 2017 when input costs were lower, it is up on the gross margin percentage in the last quarter of 2017.
“This positive trend demonstrates we can create more value in our Consumer and Foodservice business despite higher input costs and reflects the strength of our strategy of moving more volume into higher value.”
Spierings said Fonterra expected performance to be weighted to the second half of the year and remains confident in its full year forecasts following revisions after the recent Danone announcement.
“We are focused on continued tight operational and financial discipline and a keen eye on our customers’ needs to maximise sales opportunities.”
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