Goat milk advances in Europe
Hamilton global pioneering goat milk company Dairy Goat Co-operative is anticipating big export growth after a major breakthrough with the European Food Safety Authority.
The $100 million annual revenue company, the world's leading manufacturer of goat milk powder, has secured a ruling from the authority's panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergies, that protein from goat milk can be suitable as a protein source for infant formula.
Despite being first in the world to commercialise infant formula from goat milk and selling powder in Europe for 20 years, the company had not been allowed to market it as infant formula, chief executive Dave Stanley said. "It's a huge opportunity. Europe has a big, very affluent population. We believe goat milk is the next best infant product after breast milk and we have the only goat milk formula with a clinical trial to support it," Mr Stanley said.
The panel's favourable opinion on the co-operative's application follows trials in Australia involving 200 infants, randomised to receive an infant formula with unmodified goat milk protein or a cow milk formula exclusively for at least four months and through to 12 months.
They did not show statistically significant or clinically relevant differences in weight, length or head circumference growth.
The hunt was now on for at least 10 more goat milk supply farms, preferably in Waikato, which needed to start milking in July 2013, Mr Stanley said.
The company, which has its main export markets in Asia, has 50 supplier-shareholders, with some milk collected from Taranaki and Northland. It expects its Hamilton-based staff of 108 to swell by more than 20 in the next 12 months, and projects its revenue will grow to between $250m and $500m in the next five years.
It wanted to double annual production from the current two million kilograms of milksolids to 4.5 million kg within three years, Mr Stanley said.
The low-profile co-operative, founded in 1984, has grown rapidly since buying land in Gallagher Drive in 2003 and investing about $50m developing a factory, laboratories, a blending plant and a can-filling operation. It also has a joint venture can-making plant in Auckland.
A $60m spray drier able to produce four tonnes an hour will be built on the Gallagher Drive site in 2014. Nearby land has been bought for expansion.