The new Minister of Horticulture, Nicola Grigg, says the reason that she came into Parliament was because of her interest in and commitment to agriculture.
About 200 people - farmer suppliers, industry leaders and employees of olam food ingredients (ofi) – took part in the event.
Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon, engaged in Coalition talks with ACT and NZ First, sent a video message and was represented at the opening by Taupo MP Louise Upston.
Luxon says the new plant reflected ofi’s confidence in the dairy sector. The Singaporean company is a new operating group owned by Olam, a global food company.
Sandeep Jain, managing director dairy at ofi said the plant opening is an important milestone and the start of an exciting journey for the business in New Zealand.
“Opening our new plant in the heart of New Zealand’s dairy region allows us to meet growing demand from our global customer base for high quality, New Zealand-made dairy ingredients and shows our commitment to exploring growth opportunities in our dairy product offerings, focused on value-added capabilities within our portfolio,” Jain says.
“The plant will become part of our global network that spans major milk consumption markets including South-East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, complementing our existing global footprint, driving greater collaboration with our customers and helping us achieve our purpose to be the change for good food and a healthy future.”
The processor collects milk from farmers based up to 60km from the factory.
Paul Rennie, ofi operations director, says the positive response from local farmers and the community has been a humbling experience.
"The enthusiastic response we've received from local farmers tells us our partnership approach, and ofi’s global reputation as a leading dairy ingredients provider and innovator, has struck a chord with them,” Rennie says.
"Right from the start, our approach has always been to listen to what farmers want in a milk supply partner so we could tailor our offer accordingly. They told us they want a business partner who brings them confidence, certainty and cash flow, and hands-on solutions to the everyday challenges they face.”
Rennie says the community has welcomed the project. Around 60 new jobs have been created in the local area, including many highly skilled positions, with more on the horizon from the next stage phase of investment.
Alongside an attractive milk price offer, ofi has also found innovative ways to support its farmer partners, with a focus on sustainability.
This includes co-investment in advanced tools and technology to help ofi farmers actively monitor their environmental impact and achieve meaningful on-farm emissions reductions.
For example, AtSource, ofi’s world-leading sustainability insights platform, which links ofi farmers’ environmental plans, greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient reports to its global customers to provide transparency across the supply chain.
ofi is pioneering a new animal feed trial that could help dairy farmers replace costlier and environmentally intensive feeds with a sustainable, forward-thinking alternative. It aims to repurpose almond hulls and shells – a by-product from its Australian orchards into a nutritious feed for dairy cows – to help cut farmers’ methane emissions and lower their input costs and reduce waste in ofi’s almond business.
Rennie says all aspects of ofi’s new plant are designed to maximize renewable energy use, minimize pollution and water use and ensure waste is handled in the most sustainable way possible.
“We will invest in a biomass boiler fuelled by wood residue sourced from local forests to power the factory, ensuring milk processing is energy efficient and with a low environmental impact,” he said.
“Treated waste-water from milk processing operations will be re-purposed in an on-site nursery to grow cost-price native plants to help our farmers with riparian planting.”
This is in line with ofi’s newly published sustainability strategy for its dairy business, Dairy Tracks, which outlines the detailed approach ofi is taking with sustainability efforts across its value chain.
The report outlines how the organisation will meet industry challenges head on and become more socially and environmentally sustainable by 2030. Through its global reach, together with deep experience of running dairy processing facilities across the region and the sustainability insights generated from its powerful digital tools, ofi is well placed to partner with customers to make real change.