29 Jun 2015

NZ students, China farms to benefit from project

3:06 pm on 29 June 2015

Chinese dairy company Yili has established a research and development centre at Lincoln University which will benefit farms in China and students in New Zealand.

Dairy cow north of Matamata.

Dairy cow north of Matamata. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The centre was created after last year's memorandum of understanding between Lincoln and Yili that was signed in the presence of the Chinese President Xi Jinpeng.

Lincoln business development manager Sam Yu said Yili was a dairy based food manufacturer which was encouraging its suppliers in China to farm sustainably.

"They have a group of farmers that supply them in China and they want to help their growers grow better and more sustainably while reducing their costs and increasing their environmental awareness," he said.

"They're also conscious about effluent management and food safety which are areas Lincoln already teaches in, so there's good synergy there. What we can learn is what consumers on the other side of the world are concerned with and what their taste is like.

"We're looking at a different culture and how we sell and market to those people and how do our New Zealand products reach that premium value added pricing."

Yili subsidiary Oceania Dairy has a factory at Glenavy in south Canterbury, where Lincoln students can see products they have helped develop being produced for market.

"So what we might discover together we could potentially upscale that in the factory and then export it back into China, so that's quite exciting for us," Mr Yu said.

"In particular for our students they can get exposure to industry challenges and then see how their teaching can be applied in those aspects and when they graduate they have the opportunity to be recruited by Yili in the first instance."