Dry­ing plant pro­vides chance to add value

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

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.

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