Our Heritage

Our story starts nearly two centuries ago when the first cows arrived in New Zealand. From those humble beginnings, we’ve become the world’s largest dairy exporter, wholly owned by the farmers who supply us.


New Zealand’s dairy industry started in 1814 with the first cattle imported by early European settlers. By 1846, just six years after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, the first exports began. The first dairy co-operative was created in Otago in 1871 – the first of more than 400 co-ops to be established throughout New Zealand.

Refrigeration in 1882 opened new markets to New Zealand’s agriculture industry and, as a result, substantial trade to the United Kingdom developed, with the UK becoming our largest export market until the 1970s.

Many different kinds of dairy products exported to a huge range of markets since then have changed the landscape of the industry, which eventually included major consolidation.

In 2001, Fonterra was formed to represent the interests of about 95 per cent of New Zealand’s dairy farmers – our Shareholders.

Today, we export high quality products to more than 100 countries around the globe. Fonterra is the world’s largest dairy exporter.

Our History in Australia

Fonterra’s Australian operations form a cornerstone of Fonterra’s global operations and are a fundamental pillar of the trans-Tasman business unit. Through legacy companies, Fonterra has been part of the Australian dairy industry for more than 50 years.


Generations of Australians have grown up with Fonterra’s products including Western Star butter, Perfect Italiano cheese, Mainland cheese and Ski yoghurt.


Fonterra came to Australia in 2001 when we acquired a 25 per cent stake in Victorian dairy processor Bonlac Foods. We increased this stake to 50 per cent in late 2003.


Since then, Fonterra has acquired other trusted, well-known Australian companies including Bonland Dairies and Murrumbidgee Dairy Products. In mid-2006, Fonterra Australia completed the full acquisition of Bonlac Foods and we continue our proud partnership with the Bonlac Supply Company.


Today, Fonterra Australia employs 2,000 people, collects 21 per cent of Australia's milk and operates 10 manufacturing sites.