Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co has opened its new state-of-the-art infant formula manufacturing plant in Pokeno, south of Auckland.
The 30,000m2 plant will employ 85 staff and have an annual production capacity of about 52,000 tonnes of formula product. It will produce formula under the brand 'Super Alpha-Golden Stage Infant Formula' with shipments to China expected to begin in early 2016.
Yashili New Zealand is a leading producer of infant milk formula for the domestic market in China. It was founded in July 2012 and is a subsidiary of Yashili International Holdings and Mengniu Dairy Co. The new factory took three years to build and cost $220 million. The company's goals were to produce the highest quality infant formula and raise the healthiest babies in China.
The opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister John Key, China's ambassador to New Zealand Wang Lutong, consul-general of China in Auckland Niu Qingbao, chief executive of China Mengniu Dairy Co and chairman of Yashili International Holdings Sun Yiping, president of Yashili International Holdings, Lu Minfang, and representatives from local iwi and the community.
Yashili has bought milk powder from New Zealand for more than 10 years and has used this country's milk powder in its infant milk formula since 2010. The creation of the new plant adds further value to its product with the specialist Kiwi expertise in dairy production.
China's infant formula market was expected to grow to $32 billion by 2017, according to Euromonitor data, and the establishment of Yashili New Zealand had begun a new chapter of Chinese offshore infrastructure development, said Sun Yiping.
"With ever-increasing levels of urbanisation, and an increase in consumer demand for dairy products, China is the fastest growing dairy market in the world. The Mengniu-Yashili plant is creating an elite team based in New Zealand to embody a blending of cultures with an international vision and integrated ability," Sun said.
The production plant was designed to operate under strict quality controls with food safety a top priority. It uses the latest technology with temperature and humidity to be controlled around the clock, guaranteeing stable production and ensuring reliable product quality.
"New Zealand was chosen because the air and water is among the purest on earth and the dairy industry is world-leading. We see this new plant as a symbol of the twenty-first century maritime silk road, promising brighter prospects for both China and New Zealand through comprehensive cooperation," Sun said.
Image: Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co will start shipping infant formula from its new Pokeno plant in early 2016.