Wednesday, 03 May 2023 13:55

Westland Milk to build $70m lactoferrin plant

Written by  Staff Reporters
The new plant at Hokitika will secure Westland Milk as one of the world’s leading producers of highly prized bioactive ingredients. The new plant at Hokitika will secure Westland Milk as one of the world’s leading producers of highly prized bioactive ingredients.

Chinese-owned milk processor Westland Milk Products is building a new $70 million lactoferrin plant at its Hokitika site.

The new plant will secure Westland Milk as one of the world's leading producers of highly prized bioactive ingredients, the company says.

The investment was announced last week by Westland's resident director, Zhiqiang Li, and chief executive Richard Wyeth.

Westland is owned by the Yili Group, the fifth largest dairy company in the world.

The investment will more than treble production capacity of the multifunctional protein at Hokitika.

The plant upgrade follows a $40m investment which doubled consumer butter production at Hokitika, increasing global sales of the prize-winning product upon completion in 2021, including ranging of Westgold butter in US retail giant Walmart.

Lactoferrin is a minor protein in milk with growing international demand across a variety of nutritional categories because of its reported health benefits.

Li says the investment signalled Westland's commitment to take the lead in the high-value bioactive dairy ingredients sector.

"Westland is the only New Zealand commercial manufacturer of bovine colostrum powder and this move will place us in the top three leading global companies in the lactoferrin category, with a market share of approximately 10%," Li says.

"We were one of the first to market with this highly specialised protein ingredient, and over the 20 year have established a reputation as a manufacturer of a product of exceptional quality."

Wyeth says the investment extends Westland's focus on high-value consumer goods and specialised ingredients to leverage its growing international reputation as a producer of premium dairy products and ingredients.

"We cannot improve on the incredible quality of the natural product our farmers produce day after day, but we can ensure that we extract maximum value for that product, and our lactoferrin strategy is a critical part of that," Wyeth says.

"Our bioactive ingredients innovation pipeline is well advanced, and we're excited to be a step closer to bringing these concepts to commercialisation."

Global demand for lactoferrin in the last five years has outstripped Westland's production capacity with demand expected to continue to increase.

Construction of the new plant, which significantly increases production capacity at Hokitika from a current 20 metric tonne per annum, is expected to take 16 months. Construction is currently forecast for the first half of 2024.

With the addiction of spray-dried lactorferrin to complement Westland's freeze-dried lactoferrin range, Westland will be one of the only lactoferrin manufacturers in the world capable of producing both formats on the one site, a unique advantage for Westland's customers.

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