Chinese-owned dairy producer Yashili opened its massive new factory in Waikato today – the first business of its kind to open a manufacturing base overseas.

Locals and industry experts say it's good for business, but some farmers are less convinced.

Just off State Highway 1, south of Auckland, Yashili's new dairy processing plant pierces the Pokeno countryside.

It's taken three years of construction and $220 million to build a factory the company hopes will provide China's highest-quality infant formula.

The factory will produce more than 50,000 tonnes of formula product for export each year and it's big news for China.

It's the first time a Chinese-owned and operated dairy company has built a manufacturing base like this on foreign soil.

Until now, Yashili has been importing New Zealand milk for use in its infant formula products.

Industry experts say the decision to build a manufacturing plant here is about food safety and security.

Chinese consumers want to know the product is not only made here, but packaged in Pokeno.

There'll be nearly 100 new jobs and the company says most of them will go to locals.

Yashili will source all its raw material from local suppliers – some of it from Fonterra, who it will also compete with.

That has some farmers worried about whether the new plant is good for them, but with China recently changing its one-child policy to two, it's safe to say Yashili won't be short of business anytime soon.

By Jacob Brown

3 News


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