Thursday, 28 May 2015 16:06

Westland slips quietly into China

Written by 
Gregg Wafelbakker in the new Shanghai office. Gregg Wafelbakker in the new Shanghai office.

Westland Milk has opened a company in China to market products in the lucrative market.

Westland Milk Products Shanghai Ltd will market Westpro Nutrition infant and toddler nutrition ingredient powders, branded UHT milk and cream, Westgold consumer butter, EasiYo ‘make at home’ yoghurt, and Westpro milk powders, milk proteins and butter in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Westland general manager marketing Gregg Wafelbakker has taken the added responsibilities of general manager China, working from the co-op’s head office in Hokitika.

Wafelbakker says establishing a wholly owned foreign entity in Shanghai made sense for Westland. 

“It provides us with a foundation to grow our dairy ingredients business and expand into nutritional ingredients, consumer and foodservice products. Westland Shanghai will buy products from Westland Milk Products in New Zealand and sell them to customers throughout China.

“This will enable us to have a closer relationship with those customers and understand their needs better, ultimately delivering products and service that we believe will give us a competitive edge at the top end of the market. Given the priority that Westland puts on our consumers and customers, it is essential to have people on the ground representing Westland in China.”

Finding the office space was easy but setting up a company in China takes time, but that was an investment in developing a greater knowledge of the way business operates in China, says Wafelbakker. 

“It has been a rare privilege to start with a blank canvas for organisational culture and build something that is distinctly Chinese but resonates with Westland Milk Products’ culture and business strategy.  

“We started in April 2014 with one employee and today have 10.  This number will grow as our business grows.”

Traditionally a seller of ingredients to other manufacturers or wholesalers, Westland will venture into only its second retail-ready product with its new UHT milk due to come on stream in April 2016. 

“Our ultimate aim is to ensure we deliver the highest value for our customers and for our business,” says Wafelbakker.  

“We will choose the best route to market that achieves that.  China is a vast country with some 600 cities with populations of more than one million people.  Choosing a route to market that complements our products and the customer/consumer base is very important.”

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