Thursday, 12 September 2019 08:55

A home-made success story

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
New Image Group’s new factory at Paerata, South Auckland. New Image Group’s new factory at Paerata, South Auckland.

Tucked away at Paerata, south of Auckland, is another success story of New Zealand’s dairy industry.

New Image Group, started 35 years ago by NZ entrepreneur Graeme Clegg, today enjoys revenues exceeding $300 million and is a global leader offering quality nutritional and wellness products made from NZ milk.

Its subsidiary, New Image Group Nutritionals, which owns the Paerata plant, earns $100m annually from selling goat milk infant formula in China and greater Asia.

The companies celebrated a milestone last month, opening a $50m expansion to its spray dry milk powder plant.

Clegg told guests at the formal opening that he started the venture from humble beginnings.

“Who would have predicted our combined impact on nutrition and wellness... in the world, through the global movement we have created?”

Attending the opening ceremony were key customers from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Also present were representatives of the company’s major Chinese partner Yili.

Clegg noted that some people have been with him from day one.

“Some of our customers, partners and staff here have been with us on the journey right from the very start --  some of you with us for many years and some having just joined. 

“Whatever stage of the journey, we are most grateful and honoured by your loyalty and support and friendship. 

“We are all excited about continuing to share our future collaboration together.”

It has always been Clegg’s vision to be at the forefront of providing nutritious food and supplements.

New Image has pioneered the colostrum industry, developing unique patented products and formulations. Its products also include beauty products and nutritional supplements. The company was also an early starter in goat milk formula.

Clegg said his company recognised the unique features, human compatibilities and health benefits. 

“There is no question the world has truly discovered the benefits of goat milk, now in mainstream demand with consumers and companies eagerly pursuing its merits,” he said.

Sales of New Image’s flagship colostrum based product Alpha Lipid Lifeline have topped $1 billion, making it a market leader.

Its goat milk formula accounts for 6% of total goat formula imported into China -- one of the top five goat milk brands there.

Goat milk is sourced from farms just 15 minutes from the factory.

“Integration of our supply chain enables the goat milk from our partner farms located only 15 minutes away to be collected, spray dried and packed as retail ready products here on site,” said Clegg.

“We are one of the few manufacturers able to trace products from the farm to the customer.”

Clegg is proud of the operation he has created but there’s no time for complacency.

“We have not taken our success for granted.  We know for it to continue and for us to stay ahead we need to invest in our production capability, capacity and technology here in NZ to support our future growth and expansion and ensure we produce quality product that can compete on the world stage.

“Our vision here at our extended Paerata site is to create a centralised manufacturing facility with the latest technology, quality control and increased scale of production.”

Essential investment

Graeme Clegg says the investment at Paerata has been large and essential.

The first dryer and specialised packaging plant was built in 2011. Expansion started in 2016 and is now complete, with a new dryer and larger scale canning and retail pouch    facilities.

The plant is coal-free, using only electricity and natural gas to fire the boiler and handle bore water.

Production is now in full swing, with goat milk infant formula base production moving to a 24-hour operation. The first cans and pouches from the plant were produced last month.

With brands well established and trusted internationally, Clegg believes the future is looking good.

“Our future is exciting, as from the base we have established we compete seriously with the global giants in the industry.

“We are a proud NZ corporation taking our unique natural resources to the world.”

On a healthy mission

Graeme Clegg says his company aims to lead a global movement forcing governments to ban antibiotics in animal feed. 

Over 70% of antibiotics are used in animal feed, he adds.

“All chickens, pigs, most beef and even fish and prawns in farming are fed antibiotics that transfer into the food we eat. 

“This will lead to a microbe apocalypse. Antibiotics of course do not kill viruses.

“Scientific evidence is convincing that antibodies in colostrum are far more effective in preventing all infections and are the only defence against all viruses.”

He says New Image Group’s mission is to help people make healthier lifestyle choices.

“We aim to stop the increase in preventable lifestyle diseases, to encourage people to take charge of and be responsible for their future health status.” 

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