Drying plant provides chance to add value
New Zealand’s first and only independent product development spray dryer is one step closer to being open for business. The 10.5 metre-high stainless steel dryer, weighing 7.5 tonnes was lifted into the new pilot plant on the Waikato Innovation Park campus in Hamilton.
The $11 million spray dryer facility, primarily funded by Innovation Waikato Ltd, is the Waikato component of the Government-sponsored New Zealand Food Innovation Network. Capacity of the multi-purpose spray dryer is tonne an hour.
Construction of the facility will be completed in April 2012 and the first product run is scheduled for mid-may.
‘‘We’re now looking for commitments from companies that want to research and develop new spray-dried food products in the pilot plant. Our message out to the market is that we’re open for business and we want to help companies create new products and reach new export markets.
‘‘We believe this dryer facility is a key mechanism for moving the dairy industry from a focus on commodities to value-added production,’’ said Derek Fairweather, chief executive of the Waikato Innovation Park.
‘‘This facility will give innovators in the industry the ability to come up with the next specialty milk product – along similar lines as Stolle, A2 and colostrum products. I also expect to see the facility helping create entirely new industries, such as dried sheep-milk products.
‘‘This facility creates opportunity for anyone who’s ready to scale up a new spray-dried product to commercial production. As our facility gains momentum, the opportunities for product innovation will be that much more possible in smaller dairy companies,’’ Mr Fairweather said.
The Dairy Goat Cooperative has already committed to using 40 percent of the plant’s capacity. The company’s commitment was a critical factor in creating the commercial case, and gaining government funding and approval to build the plant as a true private-public partnership.
The co-operative’s chief executive, Dave Stanley, said the dryer facility would help the company bring on extra capacity to meet expansion requirements.
‘‘We’re going through a major growth phase at Dairy Goat Co-operative and intend to install a second dryer on our Hamilton processing site within the next few years. Using the new dryer at Waikato Innovation Park to produce our goat milk powders has provided us with the perfect bridge.’’
Finance for the dryer came from Innovation Waikato Ltd debt and a Government grant of $3.95 million.
SPRAY DRYER: One step closer to being open for business.