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We're building a highly specialised nutrition plant unlike any other in Australasia to manufacture premium nutritional formulas.
It's a completely different business from a dairy company, as we will be making highly functional and high-value products to order.
Mataura Valley Milk is a positive, and many would argue necessary, addition to the dairy industry in Southland.
The sustainability of New Zealand's dairy farming is being eroded on commodity milk returns.
We're offering about 30 local farmers an opportunity to supply high-quality milk and become shareholders in a nutritional business with an integrated supply chain from farm to market, an opportunity that has not been offered by anyone else in the region.
Most farmers I've chatted with, or who our milk supply manager, Dave Yardley, has chatted with, support what we are setting out to achieve.
Our plant will employ 65 full-time staff and is on schedule to start production in August 2018.
Mataura Valley Milk is a partnership between New Zealand and overseas investors.
When I visited Shanghai recently, consumers of infant formula in the premium and super premium category were happy to pay $85-$90 a can for well marketed and functional New Zealand-made product. This is the end of the consumer food market we should all be focused on.
The nutritionals market worldwide is $US43billion ($NZ60billion) and growing.
Our major shareholder, China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG), has been doing business in New Zealand for more than 20 years. As a state-owned enterprise, it is required to make long-term, sustainable investments, as it is doing with Mataura Valley Milk.
Nutritional formulas will be marketed under the Nouriz label, which has a long-term promotion deal with the All Blacks and is a well-established brand in China.
We know we have to compete for milk and we are prepared to pay our shareholder/suppliers a very competitive farm-gate price, plus premiums and incentives rewarding best on-farm practice and environmental stewardship.
This will be matched by the nutrition plant, which will operate above and beyond the exacting validation standards of the China and United States food and drug administrations.
We're recruiting some of New Zealand's top nutritional talent to live and work in Gore.
The $240 million investment is forecast to inject about $90 million into the local economy annually.
Millions have already been invested in the South during the construction and business planning stages. These are tangible benefits for businesses and the project has instilled confidence in the local real estate and retail market.
Mataura Valley Milk is also investing $6.5 million in Gore's wastewater treatment plant.
We are working hard to earn the respect and trust of people in Southland. We're building something special in Southland, and we want the whole community to be part of it.
By Bernard May, Mataura Valley Milk general manager