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Providing safe, sustainable nutrition is one of the most significant global issues. Dairy nutrition has a huge role to play in helping to solve this issue.

Through research and development, we’re able to make superior dairy nutrition accessible to more people, helping to improve health at key life stages.

Our priority is to protect the natural goodness of dairy by maintaining the nutritional integrity of our products and providing simple and accurate information to help people make informed choices.

For some people, those choices are determined by food allergies or the type of diet and lifestyle they want to lead.

We provide a range of dairy options to ensure everyone has access to dairy nutrition that meets their needs.

Our Research and Development Centre in Palmerston North, New Zealand, employs many of the world’s leading experts in dairy research and development. Dating back to 1927, the Centre has an unrivaled reputation for unlocking new applications from milk.

We are developing specialised ingredients to help reduce the risk of allergies, boost immunity and address bone health. We put high-quality dairy proteins in the hands of athletes to safely build muscle mass and recover after training. We help food companies produce healthier products, such as reduced sodium cheese.

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The facts

We’re one of the world's largest investors in dairy innovation, having invested over $1 billion in the last 10 years.

We employ more than 400 scientists and support staff at our Research Centre alone.


With each 250ml serving containing 15 essential vitamins and nutrients for good health, milk is a nutritional powerhouse. Dairy protein is widely regarded as the best natural protein available.


An $11 million upgrade has doubled capacity of the lactoferrin plant at Hautapu. Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein used in infant formula and health foods and is in high demand in Asia.

Fonterra Research and Development Centre

We believe in the goodness of dairy.

Investment in Innovation.

The Fonterra Research and Development Centre (FRDC) is one of the largest of it's kind in the world, with around 250 scientific and technical staff. Founded in 1927 as the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, the centre has driven more innovations in the global dairy industry, including developing the world's finest spreadable butter. 

The centre represents a significant investment in innovation, driving scientifically supported benefits from dairy to meet nutritional needs.  An example of this innovation is our high-quality milk protein concentrates, which are used in formulations both in New Zealand and overseas to help people recovering from surgery and serious accidents. We have also demonstrated the benefits of our milk protein ingredients for supporting muscle health - a benefit that can be leveraged in applications for aging, sports, and medical nutrition. 

Laboratory technician

Right now we are conducting extensive research to investigate the brain development benefits of our complex milk lipid ingredients. The research programme has won several innovations awards in the past year. 

We also continue to improve our evidence behind to proprietary probiotic strains. We have demonstrated the benefits of on strain in protecting against colds and infections in young children, while the other shows promise for helping to reduce the risk of eczema, gestational diabetes, and post-natal depression.

Case study.

Lichfield: Investing in new technologies.

As we build new capacity, we use this opportunity to invest in improving the resource efficiency of our sites. Last year we invested in the expansion of our Lichfield site with a new milk powder dryer, distribution centre and wastewater treatment plant.

The new 30 tonne an hour dryer is fuelled by natural gas. It is Fonterra’s most efficient milk dryer to date.

The dryer is capable of processing 4.4 million litres of milk each day, making it the largest milk powder dryer in the world alongside the dryer at Fonterra’s site at Darfield in Canterbury, New Zealand.

As the milk is heated and dried, water is evaporated from it. Rather than allow this to escape as steam, the site collects and condenses it back into water which is then filtered and reused in other processes. This means the site needs less water in and produces less wastewater out. Because of this, the site produces more water than it takes in.

The site expansion also included investment in a new biological wastewater treatment plant. This uses natural processes to reduce the nutrient levels in wastewater. This brings the site up to the leading industry standards we have committed to bringing all sites inline with by 2026.

Wastewater is irrigated to neighbouring ‘nutrient management’ farms, which are owned and managed by Fonterra. The wastewater plant can store 100 million litres of water if for some reason irrigation is not feasible.

Investment was also made in logistics efficiency, to cope with additional manufacturing volumes. The new distribution centre has the capacity to store 40,000 metric tonnes of whole milk powder which is then loaded into containers and shipped directly to the port via an in-built rail siding. This removes up to 40 truck movements from the site every day, which eliminates traffic from local roads and reduces transport emissions.

Performance targets.


Indicator Target Performance Commentary
Improvement in water efficiency (water used per cubic metre of milk processed) 20% reduction by 2020 from FY15 baseline for NZ 5.1% increase cumulative to FY17 New target to focus on declining water efficiency.
Site treating wastewater to leading industry standards 100% of sites by 2026 (global target) 25% Long-term target, but on track to achieve as investments are made in site development.