The trade war between the US and China is “a little ridiculous”, says the head of the Canadian dairy company which recently bought Australian dairy processor Murray Goulburn.

Lino Saputo Junior made the comments during an interview with Fairfax Media on Monday, in which he also expressed support for a mandatory code of conduct between dairy processors and farmers, and discussed his company’s hopes of regaining farmers who fled MG during its tumultuous last two years.

Asked his view on the US-China trade war, Mr Saputo said: “I think it’s a little ridiculous, not just China/US, but US with Canada, and US with Mexico. I think we’ve been friendly neighbours and I think that there have been some very good deals that have been done, not just on dairy but a lot of other goods. It’s just a shame that we’ve got to get into this tariff war.”

Mr Saputo said the impact for Saputo of the trade stoush was in the US, where more produce was entering the market because US dairy exporters were losing access to the Chinese and Mexican markets.

Meanwhile, Saputo revealed on Monday for the first time that it backed a mandatory code of conduct for the dairy industry. “We believe that this code should be mandatory, and mandatory for all processors, large and small,” Mr Saputo said.

Mr Saputo, the chairman and chief executive of Saputo, said he had attended meetings with about 1000 dairy farmers during his Australian visit.

He also expressed confidence that farmers who used to supply MG with milk, but left over the past two or so years, would hopefully return to the fold now that Saputo had bought MG.

“We’ve got some good indication that some of the suppliers will come back. But we weren’t expecting that everyone would come back in the first year, some of them have signed contracts with other processors.

“So it might take two or three years before they come back in big numbers. But we’re really satisfied with the reception that we received and where we are in terms of our positioning with the suppliers this year,” he said.

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