Over the past five years, MBIE targeted research programmes in sheep and goat milking have helped establish partnerships between science providers and industry players. This has impacted positively on the growth of companies like Dairy Goat Cooperative, Spring Sheep Dairy, Maui Milk and Blue River Dairy. The objective has been to grow exports within the current New Zealand dairy sheep and goat industry and help this emerging sector reach $600 million in exports in the next 15 years.
The Caprine Innovations NZ Programme (CAPRINZ) is one investment example. Established through the Primary Growth Partnership Programme (PGP), the initiative aims to put New Zealand goat milk infant formula ahead of its international competitors, through the leadership of Dairy Goat Cooperative. The programme will run for 5 years and aims to increase annual export revenue to $400 million by 2023.
While Dairy Goat Cooperative have led the industry in goat milk products, companies such as Blue River Dairy in Invercargill, have established themselves as a leader in New Zealand sheep milk. For the last 15 years, the company has produced a range of cheeses and more recently began making infant formula. In 2017, Blue River Dairy became the first New Zealand business to manufacture formulas for infants and toddlers from three different species – sheep, cow and goat. The company has established markets in Europe and China and expects to produce 15 million cans of infant formula by the end of 2019. It is currently building a new production line in Invercargill to meet demand and expects to create 20 new staffing positions from this.
Blue River Dairy won the inaugural Innovation in Export Award at the Export Southland Recognition Dinner in September 2016 and picked up the Primary Sector Business Award at the 2017 Westpac Southland Business Excellence Awards. The company has also been recognised in Deloitte’s Fast 50 list as the Fastest Growing Agribusiness and 4th Fastest Growing Company overall, with a revenue growth rate of 938 per cent in the past two years. During the same period, the business’ growth in export revenue reached an impressive 1058 per cent.