Westland Milk taps into China

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 13:25 19/07/2013

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The West Coast's dairy co-operative has taken its first step from being an exporter of dairy ingredients to becoming a supplier of finished products after launching an infant nutrition range in China last night.

Westland Milk Products is producing its Westpro Nutrition range, a near-complete infant formula for branding in China, at its new $28 million nutritional plant in Hokitika.

The new powder products for infants, older babies and toddlers, were unveiled in front of more than 100 guests, customers and foreign affairs and trade officials in Shanghai.

Chief executive Rod Quin said Westland had moved to be a producer of added-value nutritional products and reduce the company's reliance on bulk ingredients.

"The opportunities for expansion are significant, especially in China. We have experienced extraordinary growth in the past few years, but the disadvantage of being in the bulk commodities market is that it is highly variable, vulnerable to market influences over which we have little control and profit margins can be low."

He said Westland was a smaller, more nimble player in the global dairy scene and the nutritional products market was better suited to its technical expertise, flexibility and innovation and desire to closely work with customers for developing joint products.

Quin said the Shanghai launch showed Westland was serious about its commitment to the Chinese market.

New Zealand co-operatives and companies have been focusing on nutritional products because of their high profits.

New Zealand infant formula has been in strong demand since the melamine scandal in 2008, when Chinese infants died and many fell sick from consuming contaminated products.

At the launch, Westland introduced corporate branding built around its 76-year history, co-operative ownership, innovation, products, quality and people to raise its visibility in Asia.

Westland has employed its first staff member in China, with Jian xin (Harry) Wang to be based in Shanghai as its nutritional development manager.

Quin said Westland had employed a permanent staff member to focus on nutritional products and more Chinese placements were likely as sales expanded.

He said Wang's experience with other dairy companies and market knowledge, would help build relationships with customers in the nutritional segment.

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- The Press

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