‘Predator’ Fonterra in gun

“Predatory buying” allegations against dairy giant Fonterra have been lodged with the Commerce Commission.

Waikato-based Open Country Cheese and the South Island company Dairy Trust, fledgling independents, told The Dominion Post their complaints alleged Fonterra was using its near-monopoly position to frustrate their efforts to get milk from farmers.

The complaints centred on Fonterra paying more for milk in areas where it had competition.

A commission spokeswoman said inquiries were being made on whether an investigation was warranted. The inquiries involved allegations of “predatory buying” by Fonterra, otherwise called “tactical pricing”, she said.

Fonterra general manager of milk supply growth Mark Leslie said the practice was only used to keep existing suppliers in the face of competition. It was “openly” discussed with the commission.

“We would not put this offering to market unless we were confident of its robustness in the face of challenge,” he said.

Open Country Cheese founder and former National government minister Wyatt Creech said Fonterra had played hard-ball for years.

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