China’s Yili invests in ‘largest overseas butter factory’ in New Zealand

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Erie Westland Dairy Hokitika Plant / Pic: Yili Group
Erie Westland Dairy Hokitika Plant / Pic: Yili Group

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Chinese dairy giant Yili Group has opened what it describes as the ‘largest overseas butter factory’ built by a Chinese dairy company.

Yili Group has completed the refurbishment and upgrade of its New Zealand Westland Dairy Hokitika Plant, including a new Westgold production line. When operational, the investment will double Yili’s capacity at the site to 42,000 tonnes of grass-fed butter annually, making it not only the largest butter production facility on New Zealand’s west coast but also the largest overseas dairy factory to be built by any Chinese dairy group.

The launch of the new production line coincides with the third anniversary of Yili's acquisition of Westland Dairy. The company said the move shows Westland Dairy has ‘opened a new chapter of development’ with the ‘collaborative support’ of Yili Group.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by New Zealand's Minister of Trade and Agriculture, Damien O'Connor.

Welcoming the investment, the Minister said: "Yili's investment in the construction of a new production line will further promote the development of the West Coast dairy industry and help New Zealand's high-quality butter go global."

Driving global growth

Addressing the ceremony through a remote video link-up, Yili Group Chairman and President Pan Gang said he expects to continue to drive international growth of the New Zealand butter brand Muen Butter.

“Since joining Yili Group, Westland Dairy has won more and more recognition from consumers. In the future, Westland Dairy will create greater value for consumers, society and employees,”​ he commented.

Increasing butter capacity will mean Muen Butter is ‘no longer only reserved for master bakers’, but will also ‘go to the table of more ordinary consumers’, Yili added.

"With the support of Yili Group, the development of Westland Dairy has inspired every employee and partner, and we are full of confidence in the future development,”​ Yili Westland Dairy CEO Richard Wise said.

"The Hokitika factory has been renovated and upgraded with world-class production equipment. At the same time, we will continue to continue the traditional production process, so that Muen butter will always represent the highest quality of New Zealand butter."

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