US company opens new cattle plasma plant in Feilding

Proliant chief operating officer, Randy Fitzgerald checks out the inside of the new 11.5 metre high spray drying chamber ...
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFX NZ

Proliant chief operating officer, Randy Fitzgerald checks out the inside of the new 11.5 metre high spray drying chamber during a visit to the Feilding plant.

Proliant has opened its new cattle blood plasma manufacturing plant in Feilding.  

The $30 million centre takes blood from cattle, and makes  products such as diagnostic test kits and vaccines for research and in drug production.

Proliant employs 130 people at its Feilding plant.

The plant is owned by a United States company, Lauridsen which has built and operates 60 plants, with annual revenues of about US $1 billion. Proliant is part of its stable.

The decision was made to build the plasma plant at Feilding, because it is near to Massey University and centrally located with enough land to expand.

Feilding was announced as the site in 2013 after an extensive search for a suitable location with building beginning soon after.

Proliant chief operating officer Randy Fitzgerald said the facility was the second of its type in the world after the first one was built in the US.

"This ensures the continuity of supply and makes Proliant the only large scale manufacturer of bovine serum albumin (BSA) to have two production facilities.  This guarantees supply of critical material to the health-care industry in the event of unforseen or catastrophic events."

Around 1500 tonnes a blood plasma was produced in New Zealand, of which 99 per cent was exported unprocessed. That was about to change as plasma was to be further processed at Proliant's plant.

Iowa-based Proliant said it wanted to take "every last drop" of cattle blood produced by New Zealand's biggest meat company Silver Fern Farms and then move on to the cattle slaughtered by other companies. Protocols were in place for it to take cattle blood from Australia.

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The plant has the capacity to process 1000 to 1500 tonnes of blood plasma with the ability to expand up to 3000t a year.

Proliant New Zealand general manger Paul Lewis said that operating in New Zealand offered the advantages of traceable meat products and the lack of disease.

Manawatu Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said the company saw an opportunity in the region to add value to a raw product before it was exported.

"Our agribusiness systems ensure it is traceable, and regionally we are attractive with access to transport networks and lower set-up costs than main centres.  Manawatu is growing against the general trend, attracting people and industry that see the benefit of a rural lifestyle."

The plant on Kawakawa Rd in Feilding was officially opened by the Economic Development minister, Steven Joyce on Friday.

 - Stuff

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