Butter plant opened as Westland pushes ahead with plans

Westland Milk Products chief executive Richard Wyeth speaks at the opening of a new butter plant...
Westland Milk Products chief executive Richard Wyeth speaks at the opening of a new butter plant in Hokitika. PHOTO: HOKITIKA GUARDIAN
Westland Milk Products officially opened its new butter plant in Hokitika this week, the culmination of Project Goldrush — a $40 million plan to double capacity of its consumer butter manufacturing facility.

It also announced a $40 million improvement in profit.

Westland said the new plant had been operating since last year, but Covid restrictions had thwarted the launch.

Trade Minister Damien O’Connor was booked in as a guest speaker as well as Westland chief executive Richard Wyeth and resident director Shiqing Jian.

The upgrade doubles the firm’s consumer butter production to a total of 42,000 tonnes a year.

"It was a pleasure to be able to attend the official opening both as minister of agriculture and as the local MP for West Coast-Tasman," Mr O’Connor said.

"It’s great to see this continued investment by Westland Milk Products on the West Coast."

The opening coincided with celebrations to mark the third anniversary of Westland joining international dairy giant the Yili Group.

In a pre-recorded speech, Yili chairman Pan Gang praised the growth of Westland’s high-value-added ingredient and product portfolio, of which the butter plant is a key component.

"This transformation has already started to reap rewards," he said.

Mr Wyeth acknowledged the work that Westland’s original staff had contributed as well as the efforts of his current team.

"The original butter plant built in 1973 has now made way for a purpose-built facility that allows us to double our capacity of small-format butter pats with modern, state-of-the-art machinery that still holds true to our traditional churn methods," he said.

"The team has really worked hard to deliver not only a great outcome in this facility, but across the business to drive the Westgold brand into new markets. We acknowledge their work, and the work of everyone across the business who has worked with Westland since the butter plant was first built in 1973."

He also praised Westland staff, suppliers and partners for helping turn around the company’s performance in the first half of the financial year.

Westland posted a profit for the first half of the financial year — a $40 million improvement over the same period last year and the company’s strongest first-half-year result in seven years.

"We are also forecast to pay a record milk price for the 2021-22 milk season and there is more good news on the way for the region with another predicted record milk price the 2023 milk season," Mr Wyeth said.

"We have no intention of taking our foot off the accelerator as we continue to execute our five-year business strategy. The progress we have achieved one year into execution of the plan has been fantastic. It’s a result that everyone involved with Westland should be extremely proud of." — Hokitika Guardian

By Janna Sherman

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