Fat evaluation index grading system to begin September 2018


Co-operative confirms final details of new grading system and gives farmers time to adjust.

Fonterra today confirmed the final details of the new Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) Grading System that will help farmers optimise their farming system and continue to provide world class milk and milk products for customers around the world. The Co-op also confirmed that farmers will have until September 2018, three months longer than originally announced, to make any necessary adjustments before demerits are applied.

The Co-op has established the FEI test to assist farmers in producing milk with a fat composition suitable for manufacturing products that meet customer specifications. In March 2017, the FEI test was rolled out across the tanker system and all farms nationwide. Since May, farmers have been able to view their FEI results dating back to January 2017 on their tanker dockets, On Farm app and Farm Source online. In June, the Co-op announced that a grading system would be introduced based on the FEI test and that farmers would have a full year to adapt before incurring demerits.

Lisa Payne, Regional Head for Farm Source, explained that the FEI Grading System will help farmers supply milk with the right fat composition so that the Co-op can continue to manufacture products that meet customer specifications and provide the best return to farmers.

“The Co-op has a responsibility to constantly evolve to meet our customers’ needs, and provide the highest value return for every drop of milk. Therefore, we need to make sure that the milk supplied can be manufactured into the products that meet our customers’ specifications. While the vast majority of our farmers are providing milk with the right fat composition, the FEI Grading System will help others meet this requirement,” said Ms Payne.

Following extensive consultation with its farmers that included feedback from more than 700 farmers, the Co-operative announced the final details of the grading system today.

Grading Framework

    FEI Result Demerit Deductions
A Meets requirements < 7.50    
B Meets requirements but is approaching threshold limit 7.50 – 9.00 Alert  
C Exceeds threshold limit 9.01 – 11.00 2 demerits 10% per collection day
D Well in excess of threshold limit > 11.00 4 demerits 20% per collection day


The grading framework is similar to the grading structures used for other milk quality measures as they are easy to understand and have proven successful at managing risks of a similar nature in the past.

A grade of A, B, C, or D will be provided to farmers daily and will reflect a 6 day rolling average. Milk that receives an FEI grade of C or D for three consecutive days will be retested to confirm the grade. Demerits will be only be applied if the second, confirmatory test, results in a grade of C or D.

“We recognise that PKE is an important and convenient feed option for some farmers, especially in adverse weather conditions. We are giving farmers, including winter milkers, a full season to understand how PKE and other influences affect their milk fat composition. Farmers are encouraged to review their FEI results dating back to January 2017, make any necessary adjustments on-farm and plan alternative feed strategies,” said Ms Payne.

If farmers have any questions about the new FEI Grading System, they should call their Farm Source Area Manager or the 24/7 Service Centre at 0800 65 65 68.