An Open Letter to Fonterra Board of Directors

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“You can fool all the people some of the time,

and some of the people all the time,

but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Abraham Lincoln.

I write to express my views regarding the decisions made by Fonterra to imitate the branding of Lewis Road Milk. This decision epitomises corporate arrogance and its attitude towards ‘me the consumer’ treating people as unthinking and thus malleable suffice to deceive resulting in unintentionally buying your product. As any mother knows the shape of a bottle is the immediate dictate of choice hence you don’t store chemicals in your old milk bottles. I actually picked up a bottle of Fonterra’s Kapiti Milk then looked again and thought no this is not what I want and put it back on the shelf. The power of packaging is compelling. Fonterra has misjudged the ‘times we are living in’ where consumer awareness of these untoward practices has reached a tipping point such that they simply will not be tolerated as they once were.

It appears Fonterra or rather lets be clear here, the culture of the people that collectively are represented under the brand name ‘Fonterra’ have learnt nothing from the ‘China tragedy’ where due to lack of oversight, unscrupulous business practices and lack of ethics of the local company it chose to work with in China, babies died in the name of profit. And lets not forget that this is a country that has a policy of one baby per family.

The copying of another’s branding is yet another example of bully – boy tactics only this time designed to squash the originality of a smaller competitor and a fellow countryman no less. It’s time for Fonterra employees and the Board to take responsibility for its ‘poor’ decision making for only by doing so will ill-conceived decisions give rise to learning’s. Clearly nothing was learnt from the baby deaths given profit before people attitude continues to reign supreme. Fonterra remains unaware of the meaning of humility. Not my baby not my problem, not my business not my problem is an all too pervasive and prevalent attitude that has become the Corporate norm. Compete but do so without using bullyboy tactics.

If the Fonterra Board has any sense of ethics and morality then lets see this demonstrated by withdrawing your copycat branding. This might satisfy the consumer and demonstrate Fonterra is now ready to be accountable. And lets not use the word ‘mistake’ a side stepping term that has become prevalent, the use of which abrogates responsibility aka Tony Blair’s “mistake”.

Each time I purchase Lewis Road milk I make a point of talking to others who are choosing likewise. ‘Feelings’ of outrage at what is seen as an ‘unjust’ actions by Fonterra are palatable and will be stored in the consumers’ memory like the baby deaths. Patterns repeat until lessons are learnt thus what may be considered in your eyes a small issue may yet come back to bite Fonterra. Life holds us all accountable – even Companies.

From my point of view adhering to ones principles often comes at a personal cost yet we are a lessor person if we stand for no thing. Which gives rise to my wondering will I find an alternative source of butter for my morning toast? It may be that in withdrawing my support from an organisation whose ethics don’t match my values, then go without my butter I must. But wait I have discovered that Lewis Road has a line of butter and so does Common Sense Organics. Great no more purchases of Fonterra butter by me.

I have no affiliation with Lewis Road Milk other than as a consumer. I am however a stand for social justice in terms of what is fair and equitable. Please take my feedback in the spirit intended but just in case it is written Without Prejudice.



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