March 20, 2012 / 6:32 PM / 5 years ago

Dairy prices fall at NZ Fonterra auction

WELLINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - International milk prices fell for the fourth straight dairy auction, New Zealand's Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world's biggest dairy exporter, said on Wednesday.

Fonterra's Global Dairy Trade-Trade Weighted Index, which covers a range of 30 products and contract periods on offer, dropped 4.5 percent, with an average selling price of $3,396 per tonne.

All prices fell, led by milk protein concentrate, casein and cheddar.

The index has fallen nearly 30 percent since hitting a near four-year peak in March last year as global commodity prices retreat.

Full details of the auction are at: www.globaldairytrade.info

Fonterra holds two auctions a month, with the next one on April 4.

The co-operative last week lowered its payout forecast range for the 2011/2012 season by 15 NZ cents to NZ$6.75-NZ$6.85 a kg of milk solids, reversing increases announced in December, because of softer prices and a strong exchange rate.

The payout for the 2010/11 season was a record NZ$8.25 a kilo on record production and sales.

Fonterra is owned by about 10,500 farmers and controls around a third of the world's dairy exports, generating more than 7 percent of New Zealand's gross domestic product. (Reporting by Mantik Kusjanto)

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