Tuesday, 16 October 2018 07:55

Westland cruising to a better year

Written by  Peter Burke
Westland Milk chief executive Toni Brendish. Westland Milk chief executive Toni Brendish.

The bad years are over for Westland Milk Products.

That’s the promise from chief executive Toni Brendish who told Dairy News the West Coast cooperative has fixed most of the problems that caused its two bad years. 

And some other problems that were out of WMP’s hands will hopefully not recur this season, she said, referring to the impact of Cyclone Fehi and labour-relations problems at the Port of Lyttleton.

“During Cyclone Fehi we lost power for four days and there were costs to that. Unfortunately it also impacted our ability to produce infant formula in the sequence we wanted and the quantity we needed, and the pricing did not hold up as long as we’d hoped and this also affected us,” she says.

Brendish says she takes responsibility for some other things that needed to be fixed and took longer than anticipated, such as getting quality and ‘right first time’ to the required level. Some issues that haven’t been addressed for many years take the organisation a bit longer to change, she says.

“It’s like being on your tractor on the farm and trying to fix it at the same time as you are running it. We have had to keep running, take the milk and fix things at the same time and I definitely underestimated the depth of some of those issues.”

Brendish says WMP had been getting ‘right first time’ with its commodity products but not its infant formula and although the technology had been bought for this operation, the processes and systems had not caught up.  But ‘right first time’ is now tracking well.

A tactic Brendish hopes will benefit the co-op is segregating value-add products from commodities. To this end it now focuses on A2 milk and a scheme called Ten Star Premium Standard (10SPS) which incentivises farmers to produce higher quality milk, taking into account animal welfare, environment, careful use of antibiotics, no PKE and, of course, grass-fed cows.

“I have just been to the US to meet a number of customers and we see in North America a demand for really high quality -- what I would call a very clean product which suits Westland.  North America is looking for a product that is truly grass-fed – not products from around the world where a cow might walk past some grass but not eat it. There is genuine interest in what we are doing and a willingness to pay a premium for quality products such as ours,” she says.

WMP has just collected its first 10SPS milk and is using it to make high quality butter for Lewis Road Creamery. And it has won a contract to supply UHT cream to a company that supplies cruise liners. 

About 40% of the products made by the co-op can be classed as value-add; the UHT plant is now running three shifts and that product is going to China and parts of South East Asia. 

More like this

Yili’s ‘silk road’ under construction

Yili's takeover of Westland, the second-largest dairy enterprise in New Zealand, creates a ‘dairy silk road’ between Asia and NZ, says Yili Group chief executive Jianqiu Zhang.

Win-win for West Coast

Former Westland Milk chairman Pete Morrison says Yili’s new ownership represents a significant milestone for the former co-op and the start of a new era for the dairy industry on the West Coast.

Contracts will be respected

Chinese dairy giant Yili says it will respect all contractual obligations to pay current and former milk suppliers of Westland Milk.

» The RNG Weather Report



Proper training beats learning on the hoof

New Zealand's first professional dairy cow hoof trimmer has fulfilled a long-held dream, setting up a training institute to bring internationally recognised standards of hoofcare to the industry.

FE researchers aim to raise awareness

Facial eczema in dairy cattle can cause significant production losses without visible symptoms, says a new group formed to raise awareness of the disease.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

» Connect with Dairy News