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World's largest dairy exporter posts first annual loss

Cow eating grass on a dairy farm Image copyright Getty Images

New Zealand's Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, has posted its first annual loss as higher costs and heavy one-off charges hit earnings.

The firm said it would carry out a major review as a result, starting with its investment in China's Beingmate.

Fonterra saw a large writedown earlier this year on the back of its stake in the Chinese infant formula producer.

The company also said its forecasts were too optimistic.

Fonterra is a co-operative that buys dairy products from New Zealand farmers and sells them on to foreign companies.

The farmer-owned collective posted a net loss after tax of NZ$196m ($128.5m; £98.5m) for the year ending in July.

"There's no two ways about it, these results don't meet the standards we need to live up to," Fonterra's interim chief executive Miles Hurrell said.

Fonterra suffered a writedown of more than NZ$400 million from its investment in Beingmate.

It announced its intention to take a 20% stake in the Chinese firm in 2014 in a bid to boost its distribution network.

Chief financial officer Marc Rivers said "all options were on the table" when asked during a media call whether the review could result in Fonterra selling its 18.8% stake in Beingmate.

Fonterra has also had to pay millions of dollars worth of damages to French dairy giant Danone over a contamination scare in 2013.

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