Founded in 2015, Spring Sheep Milk Co. is a public-private partnership between the New Zealand Government-owned enterprise Pāmu Farms of New Zealand and sales and marketing company SLC. Its full cream milk powder is available at selected New Zealand supermarkets.
PCNZ was developed by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise head Peter Chrisp and former agriculture minister David Carter as a solution to double the sector’s exports. It aims to facilitate easier access to China.
The PCNZ Shanghai office opened in 2015, and its six shareholders comprise of seafood companies Sealord and Kono, meat processor Silver Fern Farms, dairy firm Synlait Milk, vintner Villa Maria Estate and horticulture collaboration Pacific Pace.
Mainland China is on track to be the largest export market for Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s range of New Zealand sheep milk powder nutritional products, joining Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s general manager – sales, Shane Topp, said the office in China represents a strategically important step for the company and its commitment to building a sustainable future in key export markets.
“The reception to our products in China has been very encouraging, and we see great potential for our infant formula range in particular. The value of sheep milk in China was demonstrated earlier this year when the Chinese government promoted dairy as a source of protein to boost immunity in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak,” Topp said.
“Work is under way to recruit a China country manager who will lead the new office alongside additional staff as required in the coming years.”
Spring Sheep Milk Co. has been trading in China through Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall since July. From August to September, sales through its Tmall Global Flagship store more than doubled.
The company said having a team in China will help it capitalize on the opportunities in the region and also ensure business continuity during the pandemic as travel may continue to be disrupted.
Chief executive Scottie Chapman said given the scale of consumer demand, the company will need a greater supply of milk and is actively recruiting new farmers to come on board.
Spring Sheep Milk Co., the largest sheep milking group in New Zealand, currently has seven commercial-scale farms following the addition of three new supplier farms this season, and will continue its expansion to 11 farms in the next season following interest from the New Zealand farming community in its sheep milking model.
The company invited anyone interested in sheep farming to attend its farm open day in Cambridge on November 4.
“This is new for New Zealand, but if you look around the world, people have been drinking sheep milk for a millennium,” Chapman said.
“When you consider our country’s reputation with sheep, combined with dairy farming, sheep milk is the natural evolution.”
Worldwide, the sheep milk industry is worth $8bn at the farm gate and $30bn at retail.
A recent report undertaken by NZ Food & Innovation South Island (Food South) estimates that by 2024 the New Zealand Sheep milk industry could increase the sector’s economic contribution by NZ$250m (US$167m).