Building of a new processing plant expected to deliver $129 million in sheep milk export products a year is under way in Hamilton.
The $50m spray dryer plant on the campus of the Waikato Innovation Park is being built by Melody Dairies, a four-way investment partnership, whose major customer will be Spring Sheep NZ, a nutrition company which exports high-value branded food products made from sheep milk.
Growing global demand for sheep milk products has spurred the project, which will rise beside Food Waikato's existing spray dryer at the business park.
The new dryer will be operational by next February and increase jobs at the Ruakura processing site from 17 to 35.
The Melody Dairies investors are Pamu, formerly Landcorp, with 35 per cent, Nu-Mega Ingredients, a company owned by Australian listed Clover Corporation, also with 35 per cent, Dairy Nutraceuticals with 20 per cent, and Food Waikato with a 10 per cent share.
Pamu is a shareholder in Spring Sheep Milk, the biggest customer of the existing dryer at the innovation park.
Spring Sheep chief executive Scottie Chapman said the global sheep milk industry was estimated to be worth US$8 billion ($11.6b) at the farm gate and US$30b at retail.
The industry was growing rapidly with Asia currently the biggest consumer of sheep's milk.
An ancient milk, it remains popular in Europe, particularly in France, Greece, Spain, Netherlands, Sardinia and the Middle East, Chapman said.
Sheep milk is mostly consumed as cheese but is increasingly being used in yoghurts, liquid milks, butter, icecream, gelato, nutritional foods and beverages.
Reference - New Zealand Herald