Fonterra is trying its hand on growing hemp and results are encouraging.
Fonterra's chief executive Theo Spierings says the plant, which will be running from April 2014, will enable Fonterra to increase UHT production by 100% over the next few years.
"The five new UHT lines will produce a range of products including UHT white milk and UHT cream for the foodservice sector, which is a part of our business that generates more than $1 billion in sales a year and this plant will allow us to meet the growing demand in Asia for these products," says Spierings.
"This is a big project for us and will help create an additional 50 jobs.
"The plant will also enable us to concentrate our domestic UHT production – including Fonterra Milk for Schools at our Takanini manufacturing site in Auckland."
During the Prime Minister's visit he was also taken on a tour of the wider Fonterra site to meet employees, led by Fonterra chairman John Wilson and Spierings.
Wilson says the blessing, performed by local iwi Ngati Haua, is a milestone in the plant's construction and the presence of the Prime Minister highlights the significance of the investment. "The new UHT plant is core to our growth strategy which will deliver greater returns to our New Zealand farmers."