5 Aug 2014

Oceania Dairy plant nearly up and running

8:35 pm on 5 August 2014

A Chinese-owned dairy company in South Canterbury expects to be operating officially in about six weeks.

Oceania Dairy is owned by China's biggest dairy producer Yili and is building a milk processing plant in Glenavy in South Canterbury. Its systems are being put through their final paces by project manager Tetra Pak.

Oceania Dairy chief executive Aidan Johnstone said it has been a big week for the company, with milk finally flowing through the plant.

"This is the next step in our commissioning programme which started about six weeks ago where we have been testing the plant and all the processes on water. We will now be moving to production on milk, still under the direction of the project managers, leading to a full handover to Oceania management in approximately six weeks."

Mr Johnstone said the company would spend its first season learning the ropes.

"In our first year the focus is on proving the plant - make sure all the processes work efficiently so we're producing some commodity powders, but we're also producing an ingredient powder for Yili to manufacture for infant formula in China.

"Longer term, we hope to be producing the full infant formula product on site. The plant has certainly been set to produce infant formula - but we need to be able to walk before we can run."

The company has 48 farmers supplying it from North Otago and South Canterbury.