The blood from the 2.4 million bulls and cows slaughtered in New Zealand each year is being eyed by an American company for medical and dietary use.
Iowa-based Proliant says it wants 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.
Proliant chief executive Steve Welch said a deal with Silver Fern would initially add $6 million a year to the value of blood that currently had little worth, a sum that could increase to $20m over time.
It also intended to build its own $20m-$25m processing plant at a site yet to be determined. Highly educated staff would be needed and wages would amount to about $1.5m.
Cattle blood plasma produces bovine serum albumin which is used in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and diagnostic and medical research. Immunoglobulins are also produced for dietary supplements for gut inflammation conditions.
Under the deal with Silver Fern, Proliant would collect blood plasma from two sites, Te Aroha and Finegand, South Otago, at first and then expand to cover all the company's nine beef plants.
Welch said Proliant - which had 50 per cent of the world market in bovine serum albumin - had reached full capacity with its plants in Iowa and wanted a back-up plant in New Zealand.
Of critical importance to its decision to come to New Zealand was the country's disease-free status and national traceability scheme.
He could see the world market growing at 10 per cent a year, and Proliant wanted to take as much blood as it could from New Zealand. He was also talking to other meat companies.
Silver Fern chief executive Keith Cooper said the company's annual production of blood plasma was predicted to grow six-fold over the next five years.
The partnership aligned with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's business growth agenda of encouraging innovation with clear links to export markets.
"To us this is exactly what the Government growth agenda is looking for - innovation which creates additional revenue," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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