Lessons for all in Fonterra debacle

By Rob O’Neill, Sunday Star Times

Fonterra’s botulism scare has damaged New Zealand’s reputation as a quality producer of dairy products, but for companies of all kinds the dairy giant’s false alarm could prove salutary.

“Quality” means different things to different companies and achieving it consistently is not easy. For some it means simply winning repeat business while for others it means embracing, or at least coming to terms with, complex certifications, audits and regulation.

Fairfax Media and GE Capital invited the chiefs of nine mid-market companies to a roundtable in Nelson to discuss what quality means for them and whether New Zealand has a cultural problem in achieving it consistently.

Just before the event, Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings told a China Business Summit in Auckland a “she’ll be right” attitude was partly to blame. That was no longer acceptable, he said.

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