Sheep milk industry set to grow through new partnership

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

A new program in New Zealand may pave the way for growth in the sheep dairy industry in the country.
A new program in New Zealand may pave the way for growth in the sheep dairy industry in the country.

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New Zealand's sheep milk industry has received a boost with a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) program between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Spring Sheep Milk Co.

The new 'Sheep – Horizon Three' PGP program aims to develop a market-driven, end-to-end value chain, with annual revenues of between NZ$200m ($146m) and NZ$700m ($512m) by 2030.

MPI will be investing NZ$12.56m ($9.2m) into the new six-year program, with Spring Sheep Milk Co investing NZ$18.83m ($13.8m).

Demand for sheep milk products

Spring Sheep Milk Co chief executive Scottie Chapman said there is international demand for sheep milk, especially in Asia, where consumers like its nutritional value, flavor and digestibility.

He added that New Zealand is ideally positioned to develop sheep milk products to meet this demand. 

Chapman says the PGP program provides opportunity for those already involved in sheep milking, and those who want to enter the industry.

He believes the country will need up to 55 farms managed by farmers with specific sheep milking expertise.

Spring Sheep Milk Co currently operates one farm of around 4,000 East Friesian sheep near Taupo.

Potential industry growth

MPI director-general Martyn Dunne says Spring Sheep Milk Co will be able to help drive sustainable industry growth.

One area Dunne pointed to was market intelligence to develop high-value products, while another is the establishment of a research farm. 

Chapman says the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP program will establish an environmentally sustainable industry that will help the New Zealand economy.

Spring Sheep Milk Co is a 50/50 partnership between Landcorp and a number of New Zealand investors through SLC Ventures LP.

MPI and Spring Sheep Milk Co are negotiating a contract in order for the program to start.

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