Dairy is an increasingly competitive sector globally, he said, and the onus is on manufacturers to find ways to differentiate themselves through their service and product offering.
“There’s little doubt that innovation will play an increasingly important role in deciding which dairy companies will best meet existing and emerging customer demand,” Spurway said.
Products from research
Products like lactoferrin – the protein dubbed ‘pink gold,’ which is extracted from milk and fetches prices many hundreds of times higher than whole milk powder, or instant quick frozen mozzarella, which cuts down the maturation time of the cheese from months to hours, are both the result of Fonterra’s investment in R&D, Spurway said.
“The difference between a product that is at the cutting edge of the market and one that sits somewhere in the middle can come down to a few degrees Celsius during production, the angle of a few pipes, or the geometry of a particular vat,” he added.
Investing in R&D with government
The cooperative tops the list of raw milk processors investing in innovation at more than NZ$80m ($57.5m) each year. It is also works closely with the New Zealand government’s Primary Growth Partnership in the delivery of innovations.
“Product development never stops,” Spurway said.
“And, from what I’ve seen, we can expect some exciting developments in the very near future.”