Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:55

Suppliers needed as milk demand surges

Written by  Pam Tipa
Danone’s new sheep milk baby formula. Danone’s new sheep milk baby formula.

Maui Milk is seeking new suppliers of sheep milk located within two hours of Hamilton for a new supply agreement with Danone.

Milk from free range, grass fed dairy sheep is now supplied by Maui Milk to Danone from its two farms running 6000 ewes on the western shores of Lake Taupo.

The company is offering multi-year contracts to new conversions in greater Waikato with the aim of doubling milk volume next season.

Danone-owned Nutricia, a global leader in specialised nutrition, last month launched Karicare Toddler Sheep Milk formulation, its first such product and a significant step for the New Zealand sheep dairy industry. 

The Karicare brand is a leader in Australia and New Zealand, says Nutricia.

The Maui supplied milk is processed at Innovation Park in Hamilton.

Maui Milk chief executive Peter Gatley says there is interest from sheep and beef farms around Taupo, Rotorua and King Country, but mostly from Waikato dairy operations. 

“Comparison with a typical Waikato dairy farm shows a better return per hectare, especially on smaller farms in the 50-80 ha range,” he said. 

“The system is all grazing, no barns are required and the lactation is shorter than for cows. A lot of farmers are also attracted because the environmental footprint is similar to traditional sheep and beef farming.

“Conversion from dairy cattle is low cost and we are offering multi-year contracts at a payout equivalent to $3/L. We can supply pregnant ewes during winter so a farm can dry off the cows in autumn and be milking sheep in spring.”

Maui Milk was formed five years ago to satisfy demand for alternative milks, particularly in Asia where many people find cow milk hard to digest. 

The company highlights the natural advantages of sheep milk which contains much higher levels of most nutrients than either cow or goat milk. 

Maui chairman Peter McGilvary explains that whole milk powder sold under the Maui Milk brand was a stepping stone during the establishment phase and an expanded product range was always expected. 

“The opportunity to supply the early childhood nutrition market is exciting,” said McGilvary.  “The educated, affluent consumer wants grass fed dairy for their children and they focus strongly on environmental sustainability and animal welfare.” 

Gatley says the company has made huge strides in farm productivity improvement. 

“Progress has been spectacular. Until recently it was impossible to breed a modern dairy sheep in NZ because the genetics simply did not exist here. That all changed when we imported semen and embryos from Europe. 

“Sheep can milk as yearlings and they have multiple offspring. 

“We’re making 50 years progress in about five years.” 

McGilvary says the company is working on complementary products to sell under its own brand and is buoyant about the prospects. 

“Whatever form the product takes, we see grass fed sheep milk as the perfect fit for ‘brand NZ’. It’s what we’re famous for -- grass, sheep and milk.”

For Nutricia, its toddler sheep milk product innovation responds to growing demand among consumers in Australia and NZ for toddler formulas based on alternative sources of milk, such as goat and sheep milk. 

“As consumer preferences continue to evolve it’s important that we, as market leader in Australia and New Zealand, are able to cater accordingly. Also, this launch is an opportunity to serve other consumers with similar tastes in the region, and who value NZ’s renowned agricultural and sheep farming heritage and the country’s natural environment. 

“Plus, through this launch we’re supporting our local dairy sheep farms,” said John Hoare, sales director at Nutricia ANZ.

The milk for the launch of Karicare Toddler Sheep Milk is sourced from Maui’s two farms.

More like this

Limited feed puts ewes at risk

Severe feed shortages in parts of the country mean many ewes are on a nutritional knife-edge heading into lambing and could be at risk of developing metabolic disorders.

Feed the most critical factor

Maintaining ewes in good body condition and the provision of shelter are two important management factors in maximising this year’s lamb crop.

What’s different? — Editorial

OPINION: Long-time wool industry observers have greeted the latest report aimed at resurrecting the ailing fortunes of the country’s struggling strong wool sector with a healthy dose of cynicism.

An actual plan or more woolly thinking?

Despite claims by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that a new report will be the plan “to revitalise New Zealand’s strong wool sector…” there’s widespread belief it will do no such thing.

Featured

 

Limited feed puts ewes at risk

Severe feed shortages in parts of the country mean many ewes are on a nutritional knife-edge heading into lambing and could be at risk of developing metabolic disorders.

Jack’s unique solution

Jason Jack was left with severe spinal injuries after a wakeboarding accident when he was 29, but that hasn’t stopped him getting out and about in difficult environments.

National

$10 payout!

A small but select group of Fonterra farmers are on the cusp of setting a new milk payout record.

The migrant workers dilemma

Dairy farmers want more Kiwi workers, but they also want relaxed immigration restrictions. So, what's the problem?

Producing milk, the Miraka way

The goal of Māori-owned dairy company Miraka, near Taupo, is to become the most sustainable dairy company in the world.

Machinery & Products

Landpower invests in cow central

One of Australasia’s largest, privately-owned farm machinery distributors, Landpower is building a new $10 million complex adjacent to Hamilton Airport.

Maize moisture in a moment

With forage maize playing such an important part of the New Zealand fodder supply chain, a useful hand-held moisture measuring…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

A ticking timebomb?

There could be another dairy health scare brewing in China and this one starts in our backyard.

Please explain

Does anyone in the Government understand the essential role St John Ambulance has in our society?

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter