20 Jul 2012

Westland Milk Products turns 75

8:19 am on 20 July 2012

New Zealand's second oldest and second biggest dairy co-operative turns 75 this week.

Westland Milk Products was formed in 1937 from the merger of three West Coast milk processing companies.

It now has 350 farmer shareholders who supply milk from 400 farms on the West Coast and Canterbury.

It's the country's third largest dairy processor after Fonterra and Open Country Dairy and makes half a billion in sales a year.

Chief executive Rod Quin says a highlight for the company has been its move towards producing value-added products.

The best example of that is its yoghurt brand EziYO.

While producing infant formula is another aim for most dairy producers, Westland is also working on a formula for older people.

Mr Quin says the company wants to make nutritional products where consumers are prepared to pay a premium.

He says it's starting in paediatric nutrition in the next few months but there is also a future making products for those aged over 60 as populations age.

He says this is an opportunity that's before all food producers and New Zealand needs to consider how it markets products to an ageing population.

Mr Quin says developed markets such as USA, Europe, Japan and to some extent New Zealand and Australia all have rapidly ageing populations which will be the biggest demographic in years to come.

He says at the same time China, India and South East Asia are still more in a youth generated stage of their demographic, so there are markets at either end of the life cycle.