The Press

Butter turns export star as price doubles in a year

- GERARD HUTCHING

Jersey dairy cows could come back into fashion to satisfy the growing demand for butter, Federated Farmers says.

At the latest GlobalDair­yTrade auction prices rose 0.2 per cent, setting an average price of US$3387, with butter showing the biggest gain at 3.4 per cent. This follows dips at the last two auctions after six consecutiv­e rises.

The whole milk powder price rose 0.3 per cent to US$3114, while skim milk powder was down 3.2 per cent, and cheddar up 1.6 per cent.

Butter prices have more than doubled in the space of just a year, spurred on by a change of heart from scientists about the dangers posed by fats to health.

Federated Farmers dairy group chairman Chris Lewis said jersey cows produced more fat than the holstein-friesian or friesian cross, which had been more favoured in recent decades because of the high protein levels in its milk.

‘‘Dairy fats are now being seen as a healthy option, so we might see the jersey come back in fashion,’’ Lewis said.

However, he conceded that farmers could not change their herds overnight.

Over the past six months dairy prices have largely tracked sideways, with most of the recovery occurring in the second half of last year. Any rise has been underpinne­d by strong demand for fats.

‘‘Much of this surge can be put down to an acknowledg­ement by the scientific community that fats are no longer as bad for your health as once feared. In particular, this notion has been embraced in North America,’’ ASB analyst Nathan Penny said.

Fonterra had ‘‘a reasonable amount of flexibilit­y’’ to make a switch to producing more butter as the dairy giant looked to optimise its product mix, he said.

‘‘Butter prices will be better in the next five to 10 years than they have been over the past decade.’’

While much of the demand was coming from the United States, New Zealand faced tariffs in that market, so demand from China was important.

A year ago the price for whole milk powder was about US$2000 per tonne, but this rose to US$3114 at Tuesday night’s auction.

A total of 26,688 metric tonnes of product sold, and there were 160 participat­ing bidders.

PK Furniture sold

After going into receiversh­ip in May, furniture chain PK Furniture has been sold to a newly establishe­d furniture retailer, Highbury Group. The receiver’s report did not disclose the sale price, but did reveal the former owner was still owed $22 million. Coreceiver Andrew McKay of BDO Auckland said more than 1000 customers had contacted him raising concerns about whether they would receive their orders. He said some concerns had been resolved and the receivers would be responding to the rest in the next week. McKay said PK’s employees had been taken on by the new owners. PK Furniture owed its employees $621,000 in wages, but has paid this since going into receiversh­ip, the report said. As at May, PK Furniture owed Inland Revenue $817,000 and New Zealand Customs $102,000.

Note 7s will yield gold

Samsung Electronic­s plans to recover gold and other metals and components from recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphone­s to reduce waste. The South Korean company and world’s largest smartphone maker said it expects to retrieve 157 tonnes of gold, silver, cobalt, copper and other metals from millions of smartphone­s that were recalled and discontinu­ed last year after their batteries were found to be prone to catching fire. It didn’t say how it would use the retrieved metals. The phones’ display modules, memory chips, camera models and other components will be separated from the Note 7 for sale or recycling, Samsung said in a statement. In another effort to reduce waste, Samsung has begun selling 400,000 units of Galaxy Note FE phones in South Korea made from unused parts of recalled Note 7 smartphone­s.

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