New Zealand sheep milk PGP program kicks off

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

A New Zealand government program aims to help develop the sheep milk industry in the country. Pic: ©iStock/brians101
A New Zealand government program aims to help develop the sheep milk industry in the country. Pic: ©iStock/brians101

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Building an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable industry to meet the growing demand for sheep milk products is the goal of a new sheep milk Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) program that has officially kicked off in New Zealand.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Spring Sheep Milk Co. have signed a contract for the new Sheep – Horizon Three PGP program, which means it can now formally start.

Sheep – Horizon Three will create a sustainable sheep milk industry in New Zealand. Internationally, sheep milk is growing in demand, with strong growth being seen in Asia.

Scottie Chapman, chief executive of Spring Sheep Milk Co., said that New Zealand is in an ideal position to develop the sheep milk products that will grow this sector.

The goals of the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP program are to develop a market driven, end-to-end value chain for sheep milk generating annual revenues of between NZ$200m (US$138m) and NZ$700m (US$484m) by 2030.

Industry in infancy

As well as the products expected to be delivered by the program, through sharing the knowledge and expertise gained, the program will establish a platform for industry to build up to 55 farms over time. These farms will have optimized farm systems to meet New Zealand conditions, managed by farmers with specific sheep milking expertise.

Martyn Dunne, Director-General of MPI, said that New Zealand’s sheep milk industry is still in its infancy, but the increasing demand for sheep milk in New Zealand and overseas provides an ideal opportunity for growth.

"Over the next few years, Spring Sheep Milk Co. will develop the right farming system for New Zealand sheep milking, alongside importing new genetics to start breeding sheep suited to milking in the unique New Zealand environment,”​ Dunne said.

"Through our PGP we invest in cutting-edge innovation programs in partnership with industry to deliver significant value for New Zealand.”

MPI will invest NZ$12.56m (US$8.7m) into the new program with Spring Sheep Milk Co. investing NZ$18.83m (US$13m), over its six-year life.

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