NZ's Fonterra plans to launch infant milk formula brand in China

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand dairy processor Fonterra is planning to enter China's lucrative branded infant milk formula market mid-year, and plans to build a milk processing plant in China in 2014-2016, the co-operative said on Wednesday.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said that he planned to expand its offerings of its Anmum maternal formula in China to include formulas for infants, toddlers and children.

"(The launch) would be in the middle of this calendar year in China," he told Reuters in an interview.

"We're going to focus on certain cities first, where we have Anmum maternal positions," he said, adding that the complete Anmum line will first reach the shelves in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Fonterra already markets the complete range of Anmum maternal and children's formulas in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mr Spierings also said that Fonterra was planning to build a plant between 2014 and 2016 which would process ultra-high temperature milk in China, where it has set up dairy farms.

"It's for the next business planning period for 2014-2016," Mr Spierings said, adding: "The next UHT investment is most probably going to be in China." Earlier in the day, Fonterra raised its forecast payout to its dairy farmers to NZ$6.12 (S$6.35) for the 2012/13 season on the back of rising dairy prices in past months.