Wednesday, 26 January 2022 08:55

Showcasing Kiwi farming

Written by  Staff Reporters
Farmers Alex and Joy van Vugt and their family livestream their farming to Fonterra teams in Asia. Farmers Alex and Joy van Vugt and their family livestream their farming to Fonterra teams in Asia.

Before Covid, the Fonterra team in Singapore was always thrilled when Kiwi farmers dropped into the office during their travels and shared stories of life back on the farm.

With the end of these visits, due to travel restrictions, the team started to think about how they could connect with New Zealand dairy farmers some other way.

That's what sparked the 'adopt a farm' idea of Fonterra teams in South East Asia following a dairy farm virtually through the seasons. The employees and farmers would connect via a video conferencing app and the farmers would take them on tours around the farm.

"It's one thing to know that our milk comes from happy, grass-fed cows, but it's sessions like these seeing that for ourselves, even if virtually, that the message really hits home," says Karena Chia, Fonterra marketing and insights manager of NZMP, based in Singapore.

The first farmers to get on board were Rob and Raewyn Van Vugt who have a dairy farm in Clydevale near the Clutha River. The Singapore team enjoyed being shown milking, calving and other activities on the farm, and in turn shared insights of the South East Asian dairy market with the Van Vugts.

One of the Van Vugt's children, Alex, sharemilks with his wife and soon the team were introduced to Alex and Joy and their family too, who created farming videos to talk the team through during the calls.

The teams in Indonesia and the Philippines came on board soon after and adopted farms with Bahasa Indonesian and Filipino speaking farmers who had immigrated to New Zealand.

"We ended up swapping stories in Bahasa," said Fonterra corporate communications lead Nisa Rahmani from Indonesia. "That was really special, very personal."

The virtual chats were held quarterly last year and focused on the biggest events in the farming calendar. From moving day and mating, to calving and milking, employees across South East Asia were given ringside seats of the inner workings behind the farm gate, via video updates and live conversations.

"When you work in a brands business, it's often easy to lose sight of where it all begins," says Willy Low, director of Fonterra SEA's Chilled Dairy Foods business.

"It's been an absolute privilege hearing their story; farm, family and the lengths they go to deliver the dairy goodness that our customers and consumers love."

One of the highlights for Fonterra employees in Singapore, was getting a behind-the-scenes look at calving. The team were introduced to their very own calf, who they named Susu (milk in local Malay language) and have been following her journey since.

Meanwhile, a recent session with the team in Manilla had employees' kids getting in on the slice of the action too, posing some basic but brilliant questions to Pinoy farmer Marco Concepcion who runs a farm located 20 minutes from Invercargill.

"We're going all out to celebrate the provenance of products in market, so what better way to understand the care and hard work that goes into sourcing our quality, sustainable milk from those directly responsible," says Robert Cook, general manager, Fonterra Philippines.

"Our people build our dairy education with an insider view of the realities of farm life - and the economics of it all. Our farmers get a closer view of our growth markets, our diverse cultures and what we're doing with their precious milk."

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