Close
 

A dairy dilemma: Lewis Road Creamery takes aim at Fonterra in open letter

  • News
  • December 20, 2016
  • Jihee Junn
A dairy dilemma: Lewis Road Creamery takes aim at Fonterra in open letter

The letter brings up a number of grievances as Cullinane questions whether Fonterra has exercised fair practice by using its market power to overwhelmingly dominate supermarket shelf space. “A deal such as the one we understand Fonterra is proposing does not reflect shopper preferences and would all but remove or at best, severely restrict, shoppers’ right to choose.”

Accusing the dairy giant of such anti-competition practices have certainly struck a chord with the public. Hundreds took to Lewis Road Creamery’s Facebook page to express their support towards Cullinane’s letter. Not only is the post intriguing as an acute display of brand solidarity, but for the fact that whoever’s manning the Lewis Road account took the effort to respond to every comment either thanking individuals for their support or encouraging them to email the Fonterra communications team. 

Meanwhile, the public also took their frustration to Fonterra’s social media accounts, with the company having to respond to accusations of “wormy” tactics.

Egalitarianism is a value more-or-less historically hardwired into the New Zealand mindset. On sports fields across the country, ‘fair play’ is touted as the core essential value to how things should function. So if such ball tossing antics like rugby and netball are being held to such high standards, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that hundreds are calling for a level playing field in the country’s highest grossing export industry. 

Beyond the white noise of conjecture, whether Fonterra's really the 'bad guy' is still up for the debate. But it does pose a direct contradiction to the carefully cultivated image Fonterra has sought to establish around its brand. In a recent series of ads featuring the nation's captain and heartbeat, Richie McCaw stands in the hazy peaceful rural countryside as a diverse montage of Kiwi farmers go about their daily farm work. 

The ad itself is as mundane as it gets, but there's an underlying message as Fonterra tries to tap into the 'everyday man' image of rural New Zealand—humble, honest, hard-working, and down-to-earth. In other words, the complete antithesis to the larger-than-life corporate image of profit-hungry multinationals which many in the public now perceive Fonterra as. 

The message is conveyed much more explicitly in some of the company's other videos. In one clip, Fonterra's co-operative nature is heavily emphasised as a gruff, reassuring voice narrates that the best thing about Fonterra is that it's owned by the very people that make the products.

"I think a lot of people just look at it as a big company and don't realise that the farmers actually own that co-op. Always have, always will...Co-operative over corporate."

This 'co-operative over corporate' mantra comes up again in another video when McCaw is seen interviewing a pair of farmers, presumably in their own kitchen."Fonterra is owned by the shareholders, so we all have a buy-in to the company," says one of the farmers. And if the point wasn't clear enough, the clip brings up that dairy farmers populate the company's board of directors as well. 

Paul Catmur wrote an article recently about the cult of the decent bloke in an attempt to explain the enduring popularity of now former Prime Minister John Key. He wrote that like himself, many felt an affection towards Key "not because of his policies, but because he seems like a decent bloke to have a yarn and share a beer with... President Obama liked him enough to play golf with him and he could play golf with anyone in the world. Even Richie McCaw."

Clearly, Fonterra was attempting to tap into the same principle on a consumer scale. But with Lewis Road's latest attack on a potential milk shelf monopolisation, Fonterra's corporate image has reemerged in the public eye. Lewis Road may not be actively pushing a clear marketing agenda with their open letter (in response to a request to comment from StopPress, Lewis Road declined to comment as it was "not primarily an advertising/marketing issue, and right now we can’t do the questions justice"), it's safe to say that the majority of decisions made by Lewis Road have been grounded in the core principles of marketing-based thinking.

Some believe it's all just a publicity stunt by Cullinane, the former ad man, but the company's actions still go a long way in shattering the 'just another Kiwi company' image Fonterra has worked hard to cultivate. And whether it meant to or not, Lewis Road's letter has drawn the 'David vs Goliath' narrative between the two brands. The artisanal, boutique, small-business image is what Lewis Road thrives on, making it a legitimate voice of critique against Fonterra's practices. 

For now, the saga continues as Cullinane has refused to rule out legal action. Will it stop consumers from buying cheaper, more accessible bottles of Anchor milk for their coffee, tea, and cereal on a daily basis? That's something we'll have to wait and see.

This article was originally published on StopPress.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Automation will help retailers focus on customers

  • News
  • June 19, 2019
  • The Register team
Automation will help retailers focus on customers

More than 100 retailers have gathered at Freedom Furniture’s new Newmarket flagship to consider what the upcoming wave of automation technology offers for the industry. Speakers included Pier Smulders from Alibaba Group and Soul Machines’ Hilary O’Connor.

Read more
 
 

A guide to the four favourite business f***-ups I've made

  • Opinion
  • June 18, 2019
  • Wendy Thompson
A guide to the four favourite business f***-ups I've made

Wendy Thompson is the founder and CEO of the successful social media marketing agency Socialites, and has 16 years digital marketing experience in some of New Zealand's top advertising agencies. However. that doesn't mean she hasn't made her fair share of mistakes in her career. Here, in her typically colourful way, she shares four mistakes she's learnt from all her years in business – and the important lessons she learnt from them.

Read more
 
 

The Kiwi start-up making edible coffee cups a reality

  • Design
  • June 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
The Kiwi start-up making edible coffee cups a reality

The vanilla-flavoured, sog-resistant edible cups produced by Auckland company Twiice were four years in the making, but now they’re on the menu at Auckland cafes. We gave them a taste.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 
News

Alibaba runs its Ecommerce Expo in New Zealand for the first time

Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group reported revenue of more than US$56 billion this year, and in Alibaba.com it owns the world’s largest online B2B trading platform ...

 
 

The beauty of it: From start to success with cosmetics mogul Rowena Roberts

  • News
  • June 14, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
The beauty of it: From start to success with cosmetics mogul Rowena Roberts

Rowena Roberts had zero experience in retail when she propositioned Estée Lauder to allow her to open a MAC Cosmetics store in New Zealand. Now, over 18 years later through her business Red Honey Cosmetics, she has sold luxury brands Jo Malone London, Bobbi Brown and MAC in New Zealand successfully. The cosmetics mogul talks to us on the most important aspects of running her businesses, and why no one should ever be afraid to do the literal dirty work.

Read more
 
Design

Spread the word: Pic’s Peanut Butter World opens

If all the world’s a stage, Pic’s Peanut Butter World is no peanut gallery.

 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}