Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:55

Milk supply battle heats up in Mooloo land

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
The battle for Waikato milk supply is hotting up with Synlait’s entry into the region. The battle for Waikato milk supply is hotting up with Synlait’s entry into the region.

The battle for milk supply in Waikato is heating up with Canterbury processor Synlait entering the region.

It will build a $280 million powder plant at Pokeno, north Waikato, and is now encouraging potential Waikato suppliers to register their interest to avoid missing out.

Synlait’s project means three new milk plants will be commissioned in Waikato over the next 24 months, all three plants seeking milk at Fonterra’s doorstep.

Open Country Dairy’s new plant is nearing completion. Its chief executive Steve Koekemoer told suppliers last month the Horotiu factory build is progressing very well and interest in milk supply has been strong.

Happy Valley Dairy has resource consent for a $230m infant formula plant in Otorohanga. Its founder and director Randolph van der Burgh says farmers around the factory will be offered milk supply contracts once construction starts.

 “We expect some farmers to switch supply to us; others may want to stay with Fonterra… it’s entirely up to each farmer,” he says.

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven says the new plants prove the effectiveness of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), which led to the formation of Fonterra.

“It is ensuring that farm gate competition for milk supply is alive and well,” he says.

McGiven agrees that Fonterra suppliers in Waikato will be targeted by the independent processors. “Obviously Fonterra will have to compete to meet this competition,” he says.

“Congratulations to Synlait for taking the risk in developing a factory away from their supplier base... but they have experience in doing that obviously.”

Pokeno, the location for Synlait’s second nutritional powder plant, already has an infant formula plant, owned by Yashili.

“Our forecast increase in customer demand for infant formula products means we need to add additional powder manufacturing capacity as soon as we can,” says Graeme Milne, Synlait chairman. 

Chief executive John Penno says the commissioning date will be known once consents and approvals are obtained.

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