Thursday, 21 April 2022 08:55

Spring Sheep scoops innovation award

Written by  Staff Reporters
Spring Sheep milk CEO Nick Hammond (centre) and COO Thomas Macdonald accept the award from Don Good, Waikato Chamber of Commerce. Spring Sheep milk CEO Nick Hammond (centre) and COO Thomas Macdonald accept the award from Don Good, Waikato Chamber of Commerce.

Sheep milk processor Spring Sheep recently won the Company-X sponsored Innovation category of the Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Award for its Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink.

The product previously won the best infant nutrition product at the World Dairy Innovation Awards in 2021.

Spring Sheep began in 2015 and now sources sheep milk from 12,700 grass-fed Zealandia sheep, its own breed, from dedicated farms across the Central North Island.

The milk is spray-dried into powder at Waikato Innovation Park at Ruakura in Hamilton and is used to create high-value nutrition products. Its early life nutrition range, including Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink and nutrition powders are sold in China, Malaysia and New Zealand.

Sheep milk is regarded as nutritious and helpful for people with stomach or digestion intolerances. Grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk is highly regarded globally.

Spring Sheep is jointly owned by Pāmu, the New Zealand Government, and sales and market development company SLC, with Ministry for Primary Industries support through the Primary Growth Partnership. It is at the forefront of agricultural science, working with geneticists, food technologists and environmental scientists to improve production.

The number of milking sheep is expected to quadruple in the next four years and the company is also eyeing new markets.

The Company-X Innovation Award recognises organisations that have enhanced their success through innovation - both in thinking and implementing of an idea. An innovation can be in a product, service, technology or process.

"Spring Sheep Milk Co. has demonstrated a relentless pursuit of excellence in innovation at all ends of the supply chain," said judges.

"From the detailed research into the benefits of sheep milks versus other milk products, to understanding the trends and dynamics of end markets, to ensure Spring Sheep's products excel in a highly competitive marketplace.

"Spring Sheep delivers on all fronts in growing not only its own business but the overall sheep milk category itself."

Spring Sheep chief executive Nick Hammond accepted the award with chief operating officer Thomas Macdonald.

Hammond said the award was a testament to his team's dedication and passion for the industry.

"It's fantastic to be recognised in this way by the Waikato Business community," Hammond said.

"I'm incredibly proud of our team - sheep included - who are all superstars in their own right and continuously bring their A-game every day to contribute to the success of Spring Sheep Milk Co."

Company-X co-founder and director Jeremy Hughes is impressed with the Spring Sheep story.

"I am impressed that the Spring Sheep Milk Co has 12,700 sheep being milked across the Central North Island to feed an international market," Hughes said.

"It's truly innovative. They have had the courage and tenacity to take an idea with the wow factor and make it a reality.

"It's exactly the sort of innovative, outside of the square, idea that we love fostering and seeing win the Company-X Innovation Award."

Company-X co-founder and director David Hallett says it loves working with companies who refuse to be boxed in and who think differently.

"Spring Sheep Milk Co. is obviously one of those companies and is producing a premium product for a world market right here in the Waikato."

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