NEW ZEALAND – Westland Milk Products, a co-operative dairy company in New Zealand has unveiled plans to build a new US$15.1 million plant at its Hokitika site in South Island.

The investment includes US$6.7 million loan from the government to build a facility that will ensure availability of quality dairy products in the West Coast region of the country.

According to the company, the plant will allow Westland to separately process (segregate) multiple types of special quality milks into high value products to meet growing global and domestic demand; returning more money to shareholder farmers and the regional economy.

The new plant will also allow the co-operative to produce high value segregated product even during the peak milk season.

“Westland needs to reduce its dependency on bulk dairy commodities with their volatile pricing cycles,” said Chief Executive Toni Brendish.

“We’ll do this by expanding our capacity to produce high value products, differentiated by the special qualities of the milk used to make them.

This will include A2 milk and our new Ten Star Premium Standard milk.

There is also potential, in later stages of the project, for other segregated products such as grass-fed, pure Jersey, goat or sheep milk, or even plant-based nutrition.”

He added that segregated production of speciality milks was a key component of Westland’s five-year strategy.

“Currently, while we can produce some segregated product on the shoulders of the season, at peak our existing plant capacity forces us to process low value bulk commodities just to get the milk volume through.”

Operations at the new facility are expected to start during the 2019-2020 season and will create additional 8-10 jobs at the Hokitika plant.

“If Westland is to thrive, and grow our vital contribution to the West Coast economy, we must focus on our best assets, including our heritage, location, people and, particularly, our smaller size, with the agility and flexibility that comes with that.

“It makes sense for us to focus on low volume, segregated, high value products that are far less susceptible to the cycles of the global dairy trade market.

There is growing demand from customers prepared to pay premium prices for bespoke products that meet their, and their consumers’, particular needs,” she said.