Blue River Dairy gets Chinese certification for baby formula

A tin that will be used for the Blue River Dairy sheep milk baby formula for export to China.
ROBYN EDIE/FAIRFAX NZ

A tin that will be used for the Blue River Dairy sheep milk baby formula for export to China.

Blue River Dairy can restart exports of its sheep milk baby formula to China, following an accreditation from the Certification and Accreditation Administration.

Blue River is a Southland-based, Chinese-owned sheep milk business that produces foodstuffs such as cheese, and milk powder. 

The company had to stop sending its formula after the China certification and accreditation administration cut the number of permitted imports of infant formula, following strict regulations which came into effect on May 2, 2014.

The company was sold to Chinese company Blueriver Nutrition HK in February and it was believed at the time that the sale would open up distribution in China.

After purchasing the company, the new owners said the plant would receive $40 million in new development, with a second drier likely to be added.

The company had to lay off about 10 staff following the regulation change, but since it had been bought by Blueriver Nutrition HK there were plans for 20 to 30 new jobs on the back of planned growth and plant expansion during the next few years.

READ MORE: 
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Blue River Sales and Marketing manager Gareth Lyness said the company gained its accreditation from the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People's Republic of China in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

"It's a massive market and it's a unique product in that market.

"We are the only sheep milk infant formula [exporting to] the Chinese market."

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The accreditation would have great commercial impacts for the company, Lyness said.

"It commercially makes the whole business outlook better."

Blue River has been added to the infant formula milk powder accreditation list along with companies such as Nutricia, Synlait Milk, the Dairy Goat Co-operative, GMP Dairy and Health Pak.

The company was optimistic about the product's sales in China.

"We've got very high expectation of the success of the business now," Lyness said.

Many big companies were having to jump over similar hurdles to get their products into China and it had been beneficial that the owners were based in China as they understood the retail distribution markets, he said.

Blue River Dairy is also looking into selling the sheep milk formula in New Zealand.

The company would have to revise the specifications for the New Zealand market but they had a tentative launch date of November in mind, Lyness said.

According to data from the Ministry for Primary Industries, in 2014 New Zealand exported around $357 million of retail ready infant formula worldwide, of which around $106 million was to China. 

In the six months to June 30 2015, around $196 million of retail ready infant formula was exported worldwide, of which around $70 million was to China.

 - Stuff

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