The process of due diligence on a dairy joint venture in the Americas between Swiss behemoth Nestlé and New Zealand's Fonterra Cooperative Group is close to a positive conclusion, revealed Fonterra's CEO Craig Norgate earlier today [Friday].

Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires, Norgate said he has a "high level" of confidence that the venture will go ahead. The alliance was first announced in August and both companies are anxious to embark on means to bolster their positions in the US and South America.

The joint venture will see the companies working together to market dairy products in the Americas, including shelf-stable and refrigerated foods and beverages.

Fonterra is New Zealand's largest company with annual sales of about NZ$14m (US$5.86m). It was established in June through a merger of the country's two largest dairy processors and dairy exports monopoly holder the Dairy Board. It now accounts for one in every five of New Zealand's export dollars.