Dairy Capability Working Group Report

Dairy is New Zealand’s largest export industry and a significant provider of employment. Its continued prosperity, growth, reputation as a producer of safe food, and contribution to New Zealand’s economy depends on robust food safety capability.

The Dairy Capability Working Group (the Working Group), comprising representatives from the dairy industry, dairy sector organisations, government, education organisations and verifiers, was convened by the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2014.

The Working Group’s role was to assess current and future capability needs across the dairy value chain and make recommendations to ensure that those needs are fully met. 

Members of the Working Group were from the dairy industry, dairy industry associations, education and research organisations, verification agencies and government.

Findings of the report

The Working Group found that New Zealand’s dairy food safety capability is in good shape with examples of excellence in many parts of the value chain. Their recommendations were focussed on preparing for the future to ensure that New Zealand’s dairy food safety capability remains world class.

Read the report here


Flagship initiatives for immediate action

  • Develop voluntary guidelines and training on food safety governance for board directors to drive robust food safety decision-making within and across dairy sector organisations.
  • Establish a dedicated dairy food safety excellence awards scheme to identify excellence in food safety practice across the dairy value chain.
  • Develop a targeted programme of secondments between MPI and industry to promote strong regulator and industry partnerships and improve capability.

Initiatives with longer term impacts

  • Enhance the availability, relevance and accessibility of food safety education and training at all levels.
  • Enhance ongoing food safety incident management training by MPI to focus on issues specific to dairy food safety.
  • Promote awareness amongst students of careers in food safety through the use of Primary Industry Champions and Primary Industries Ambassadors in Schools, and other activities such as school science days and career days.
  • Identify and champion a dairy sector leadership mechanism that drives food safety culture and capability across the sector.
  • Develop initiatives to promote a holistic understanding of food safety across the value chain.
  • Aligning organisational systems and structures to support optimal food safety decision-making.
  • Establish a role for the Food Safety Assurance and Advisory Council (FSAAC) to evaluate the impact of the implementation of agreed recommendations on food safety across the dairy value chain.

Relevance to the wider food sector

While the remit was food safety capability within the dairy sector, the Working Group was mindful that many of the issues identified could also be relevant for wider food safety capability.

Next steps

The Director-General of MPI has discussed the findings of the report and its implications for the sector with senior dairy industry leaders. Implementation of agreed recommendations will commence in early 2016.

Who to contact

If you have any questions please email info@mpi.govt.nz.