Westland Milk Products’ plant in the Izone Industrial Park at Rolleston

Westland Milk payout at lower end

by Mike Isle

Westland Milk Products has reported a final milk payout of $6.12 a kilo of milk solids, less a five cent retention, delivering a net average result for shareholders of $6.07 a kgMS.

The company is New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative with a production plant in Rolleston’s Izone industrial park.

Chairman Pete Morrison said a substantial number of shareholders received an additional premium on the net result of 4.4 cents a kgMS for providing UHT winter milk and colostrum, giving them a net average payout of $6.11.

He said the co-operative achieved $3.3 million profit before tax because of the decision to retain five cents.

“It was essential to retain a degree of payout to ensure a strong balance sheet and leave us options for capital expenditure to drive growth.”

He said the Westland board acknowledged its milk payout wasn’t competitive and was focussed on achieving parity in future.

“This year’s payout was at the lower end of our range and was affected by global commodity prices, the impact of Cyclone Fehi, and a strike at the Port of Lyttelton.

“We also didn’t meet our production and processing targets for the year. Top line sales were not as good as they could have been but we are seeing improvements with the new sales team in place and the benefit of improved processes.”

Mr Morrison said the co-operative was currently reviewing its capital structure to respond to high debt and limited financial flexibility issues.

“Our priority is to accelerate our strategic business plan and to drive better, long-term returns and value to our shareholder farmers.”

Chief executive, Toni Brendish, said the co-operative had made important performance improvements in 2017–18 in Right First Time manufacturing, along with process and efficiency improvements. “Changes to our internal systems and processes will continue to help improve our performance and drive better outcomes in the coming year,” she said.

“Last year, our workplace safety performance was particularly pleasing, with a 23% drop in total recorded Injury Frequency Rate. This speaks to a good safety culture and helps reduce costs and increase efficiencies.

“This focus, along with the commencement of work to deliver on the segregated milk component of our five-year strategy, combined with the process improvements in all levels of the organisation, gives us more confidence to achieve a goal of competitive payout in our predicted payout for 2018–19.”