Plant biggest `by long shot’

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Muth’s economy each year

The new Mataura Valley Milk plant being built at McNab is forecast to pour about $90million annually, directly or indirectly, into the South’s economy.
Population growth in China resulting from the phasing out of the one-child-per-family policy was one of the factors underpinning Mataura Valley Milk’s confidence the McNab plant would be a success, MVM managing director Bernard May said.
The $240million plant would be New Zealand’s largest food manufacturing investment “by a long shot”, he said.
As well as the phasing out of the one-child policy in China other factors such as the rising number of births in middle-income families, the increasing number of working mothers and urbanisation were all favourable for the growth of the infant-formula market.
There was also huge population growth in Africa.
Export revenue from infant-formula milk products was expected to grow about 10% annually for the next five years, Mr May said.
The new entity needed between 35 and 40 farmer suppliers who were within a 80km radius of the factory.
The company was hosting tours and making presentations to prospective suppliers, he said.
“It’s important that farmer shareholders understand our business and we answer all the important questions,” Mr May said.
Only a percentage of infant formula was milk and a range of other nutritional ingredients were also included, he said.
The plant had taken huge commitment from owners China Animal Husbandry Group, which had a 72% share of MVM, and Bodco, which had a 5% share.
China Animal Husbandry Group also owns 40% of Bodco.
Southland dairy farmers would hold a 20% share and the remainder was owned by mainly New Zealand investors.
It would take 640,000 man hours to finish the plant, Mr May said.
“It’s really exciting to see all the construction getting to the end,” he said.
There were 300 workers on site.
The plant would employ about 65 staff when operational, he said.
“We currently have 36 people employed. Most of them are living in the area.”
The company was now recruiting for plant workers and it was envisaged they would be from the Gore district, he said.
The plant would use new technology to its advantage, an example being water treatment involving reverse osmosis followed by ultra-violet and chlorine treatments, Mr May said.
The milk-handling procedures would also be of the highest standard.
“Raw milk is one of the biggest risks on site.”
Robotics would be used for tasks such as stacking product.
The plant would be in production in August, Mr May said.
The advantages the plant would bring to the community included extra revenue, diversity of people and growth, he said.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said in terms of employment and financial spin-offs the establishment of the MVM plant was the single biggest business investment the area had seen for about the last 20 years.
“It’s been a significant investment. It’s certainly going to pay dividends for the community,” Mr Hicks said.
The establishment of the plant in the district might encourage families to stay in the area or others to relocate to Gore.
The district had an ageing population and there was a real need for younger people to be attracted to the area, he said.