New milk fingerprinting technology wins New Zealand innovators award


Fonterra has been recognised for a new diagnostic test that helps to ensure a safe supply of milk and reduces the time and cost of testing.

The Co-op’s research and development arm won the Innovation Excellence in Research award at last night’s New Zealand Innovators Award for Milk Fingerprinting.

Simply put, Milk Fingerprinting delivers the detailed composition in milk by light analysis and sophisticated computing.

Fonterra Chief Science and Technology Officer Jeremy Hill said this new technology cuts some testing costs by more than 99 per cent and significantly reduces the time required for processing results.

“Milk Fingerprinting means instead of some tests taking days or weeks we can test hundreds of samples in seconds, cutting processing times and cost. However, its benefits go far beyond ensuring a quality, safe supply of dairy nutrition.  

“The composition of milk varies seasonally, and between farms and regions.  This means milk from one of our farms may be better-suited to one specific product rather than another.  

“Milk Fingerprinting provides information about each farm’s milk so rapidly that when combined with our sophisticated tanker scheduling system, we can now send our milk to the manufacturing site that will get the most value out of every drop,” said Dr Hill. 

The technology behind Milk Fingerprinting highlights Fonterra’s strength in, and commitment to, research and development (R&D). The Co-operative invests more than NZ$90 million annually into R&D – more than many large multinational nutrition and technology companies.

The development of Milk Fingerprinting has been partially funded by Transforming the Dairy Value Chain – a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry of Primary Industries, Fonterra and DairyNZ that aims to create new products, increase on-farm productivity, reduce environmental impacts and improve agricultural education.