First milk delivered to plant

Staff at the Mataura Valley Milk plant, which began production yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Staff at the Mataura Valley Milk plant, which began production yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The first milk has been delivered to Mataura Valley Milk's $240million nutrition plant at McNab, near Gore.

Previously bare farmland has been transformed over the past two years during the construction phase of the company's new nutritional formula plant.

Mataura Valley Milk is majority owned by Chinese company China Animal Husbandry Group, and the majority of the infant formula is destined for export.

Founding director Ian Tulloch said it was very satisfying to see the plant open after eight years of hard work by many people.

``It's having a big impact on the district. It's exciting times,'' Mr Tulloch said in a statement yesterday.

Work began on the site in August 2016, and workers from all over New Zealand stayed in the region during the phase, while stainless-steel welders came from overseas.

The first milk from the company's shareholder suppliers arrived at the plant yesterday morning, and MVM general manager Bernard May said the company was very happy with the spread of suppliers and their proximity to the plant.

Waikaka Valley farmers Rosie and Malcolm McIntosh said they were ``delighted'' to be supplying their milk to a high-value processing plant.

``We did a fair bit of homework and looked at the plant, and that it was going to be at the high end of the nutritional formula market. They wanted good milk and we have good milk, so it made sense,'' Mr McIntosh said.

Skim and whole milk powder would be produced as the plant came on stream, and the first nutritional formula production was scheduled for February.

BNZ's latest Rural Wrap said global dairy prices had eased about 9% since the start of the new season.

Slower Chinese growth and a weaker yuan appeared to have curbed Chinese demand, while large EU skim milk powder stockpiles continued to weigh on prices.

Slower global growth suggested further downside risk to global dairy prices, although generally underwhelming global milk supply and many lingering weather concerns might offer some price support.

Fonterra's $7 milk price forecast for 2018-19 looked too optimistic at this stage, but it remained early days.

BNZ's forecast remained at $6.60 ``with a touch more downside than upside risk''.


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