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Farm to market goat infant formula industry a reality for Hawke�s Bay

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Business Hawke's Bay

A farm to market new industry in the region is a step closer following the announcement today that a national goat milk based product manufacturer will build a spray drier in Hawke’s Bay.

At today’s (2 July 2015) Infant Formula Industry for Hawke’s Bay Conference organised by Business Hawke’s Bay (BHB) and held in Napier, Gregg Wycherley, founder of Fresco Nutrition Ltd, told the 200 plus attendees that “when we build, we will build here”.

The company currently has a four-year lease agreement with Innovation Waikato, part of the government’s New Zealand Food Innovation Network to use a spray dryer there. “We are grateful for the opportunity to use an open access facility, but in order to reach our goals we need to build our own spray dryer and canning factory.”

He aims to begin building the facility in two years although is still working on confirming details, and estimates the investment to be around $30million. Once fully operational, the facility would provide around 40 jobs.

Mr Wycherley described Hawke’s Bay as ticking all the boxes as the region to locate his operation, citing the climate, land prices, Napier Port, transport infrastructure, water and trade waste systems, and supportive local government as key attractive factors.

He also indicated that the support Business Hawke’s Bay had provided him in his investigations was particularly helpful. He has been working closely with Catherine Rusby, BHB’s food and beverage programme manager, who started working on the possibility of setting up a non- bovine infant formula industry in the region late last year.

Ms Rusby coordinated the conference that saw a full day of speakers address representatives from the farming community, rural support and professional advisory services, local government, Iwi, local engineering manufacturers and others interested in the commercial aspects of this new regional opportunity.

Among the speakers, Tom Skerman, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council economic development manager presented economic impact research garnered by local economist Sean Bevin of Economic Solutions Ltd, that indicated there was potentially $1.5 billion in revenue and 178 jobs that could be generated in the region over 10 years from direct and associated work related to the new industry.

Mr Skerman explained this revenue was based on setting up 18 goat dairy farms,construction of the processing plant and a packaging facility, and the annual operation of all these facets.

Andrew McCallum from the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment who has responsibility for the Food and Beverage Information Project, outlined how infant formula fitted into the global food market. He highlighted that China is driving world growth in baby food / infant nutrition sales, growing over 50 percent more than the rest of the world combined, although there is strong growth across the developing world.

Natasha Telles D’Costa, an associate director with Frost & Sullivan, an international business development advisory firm, presented emerging trends on goat milk powder, again with emphasis on China and Asian markets. She stressed that it was important to understand the motivating factors relevant to each specific market behind the preference for goat milk and structure the product and marketing accordingly.

For instance she explained that Chinese women were very exacting about products they chose for their children and would exhaustively research options, particularly relying on online blogs for information and experiences about products.

Other presenters included speakers from Massey University, the Food Innovation Network and HB Regional Council, plus genetic and mineral systems experts.

Also on the speaking list were Hawke’s Bay farmers, David Phillips and Lydia Baty who have recently converted 41 hectares from sheep and beef to goat farming near Havelock North. The father daughter combo spoke on their experiences and the rationale behind their plans to milk 650 goats.

They fielding many questions from the enthusiastic and inquiring audience.

Of the day, Ms Rusby said “Our aim was to show those attending where the business opportunities are so they can go away and do the due diligence to determine if it is right for them.”

“This is a long term proposition. It’s an opportunity for the region to add another string to its bow that will create jobs both on farm and at a more technical production level. It could provide marginal farming operations with a viable alternative, and provide supporting businesses more growth opportunities too.”

Ms Rusby will continue to be working to “connect the dots” for those interested in getting this new industry underway in Hawke’s Bay. She can be contacted at Business Hawke’s Bay by email: [email protected]

For more information contact:

Catherine Rusby
Business Hawke’s Bay
Food and Beverage Programme Manager Phone 06 650 7005
Mobile 021 0299 5119

Gregg Wycherley, Fresco Nutrition 027 318 8801