'Interest’ in formula plant

An aerial view of construction of the Mataura Valley Milk plant near Gore. Photos: Supplied
An aerial view of construction of the Mataura Valley Milk plant near Gore. Photos: Supplied
Mataura Valley Milk milk supply manager Dave Yardley (left) and general manager Bernard May.
Mataura Valley Milk milk supply manager Dave Yardley (left) and general manager Bernard May.

Mataura Valley Milk says it is confident of securing the 25-30 farmer-supplier shareholders needed by December for its new nutritional formula plant near Gore.

The company had received ‘‘significant interest’’ in becoming shareholders from farmers, general manager Bernard May said.

The $240million project was on track for production to begin in August next year at the McNab site, which would be staffed by 65 full-time employees.

It would process about 500,000 litres of whole milk a day to produce 30,000 tonnes of infant formula a year at full capacity. About 80%-85% of the infant formula would be exported.

In a statement, Mr May said continued recruitment of milk supplier-shareholders and staff would be a major focus in the next six months.

Milk supply manager Dave Yardley said farmers he had met were excited about the opportunity, and he had a busy schedule of meetings planned.

‘‘The small size of the business, the connection they will have as shareholders and the fact we’re going to the higher end of the value-added market are really peaking farmer interest.

‘‘Positivity has returned to the dairy sector, so people are seeing it as a good time to review where they are and whether they have a better choice out there,’’ he said.

Mr May said the plant’s construction was on schedule and the drying tower already at its maximum 40m height.

The company is majority-owned by Chinese company China Animal Husbandry Group, while Southland farmer-suppliers would own about 20% of the plant.

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