Chinese dairy giant Mengniu has become one of Australia’s major dairy processors with a brace of recent purchases.
Special trade envoy Mike Petersen says only about 10 years ago the dairy industry was saying we shouldn't be shipping fresh milk or milk with water in it. With freight costs it was more efficient to dry it for shipping around the world.
"But New Zealand's comparative advantage is water, and food is virtually water, and many countries now are importing food because they don't have enough water to grow their own," he says.
"We have to think about this smartly; there are real opportunities for us and people understand that the integrity of food production is important when you get it from a single source.
"In NZ the opportunity for us has to be in fresh products that can contain the water – that is part of the story."