Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fonterra Coughs Up $8.4 million Donation for China

Fonterra, the New Zealand dairy cooperative linked through its joint venture Sanlu to melamine tainted infant formula in China that has sickened in excess of 50,000 children, has announced it is making a NZ$8.4 million donation to a Chinese charity set up by Deng Xiaoping, the former Chinese leader. The charity will build and operate maternal and infant community centres.

Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier interviewed in Beijing said it was staff in China who came up with the donation idea. When asked if $8.4 million was enough, he replied "That's an amount which is going to create an enormous amount of goodwill and good work."

It's an indictment of Fonterra management and ownership that the initiative for the charitable work did not come from the top of the organization exercising wise and socially-responsibly judgement but had to come from staff lower down the organization in China.

Moreover, the charitable contribution averages out to just over $150 per child sickened by the poisoned milk.

Fortunately for Fonterra, Chinese consumers do not seem to associate Fonterra with tainted milk products. A consumer survey in China of 900 people found that only 3 percent regarded New Zealand in a poorer light because of the scandal, largely because most consumers do not know of Fonterra's ownership stake in Sanlu.

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