Wednesday, July 6, 2022

‘Grass to glass’ ethos for Balclutha plant

The South Island’s latest “grass to glass” dairy plant has been commissioned and is set to finish 20,000 tonnes of dairy nutritional products annually.

Grant Paterson: Brings expertise as an independent milk producer to the Balclutha project.

Greenfields, Agricultural Research, Dairy Innovation and Nutritional Systems (Gardians), processing plant near Balclutha, South Otago, is a 50-50 joint venture between Dunedin-based dairy farmer and agricultural investor Grant Paterson, and Auckland-based food packaging business Sutton Group.

The premium infant formula powder plant is a custom-built dairy site using the latest European spray dryer technology equipped to handle a minimum 20,000 tonnes per year of the highest grades of nutritional powders destined for international markets.

The plant was built in just on 12 months and commissioned early this month.

While Gardians spokesperson James Shortall confirmed the plant’s commissioning to The New Zealand Farmers Weekly he was reluctant to discuss detail at this stage.

“Yes, the plant has been commissioned, a couple of weeks ago, we are still working through that commissioning. We did plan something official to open it this month but we are running a bit behind with that,” Shortall said.

Gardians encapsulated the essence of “Brand New Zealand” and recognised the world was becoming a more discerning place where both brands and consumers were demanding traceability of their end products, especially in ranges as sensitive as infant formula and early developmental nutritional products.

The venture enabled both the Paterson and Sutton families to realise the potential of a global market that had both the desire and the demand for a range of premium dairy nutritional products that had “absolute traceability with guaranteed integrity through the dairy chain from grass to glass”.

The Paterson family has been a long-time player in the dairy industry as a major milk supplier, while the Sutton Group has forged a premier position as a leading processing and packaging partner having established a total nutritional solutions business serving the dairy and wider food and beverage industry both in NZ and overseas.

The Gardians plant, with capacity to process up to three tonnes of milk powder an hour, would employ around 35 people and operate up to 24 hours a day during the peak of the season, from the end of September until the end of December. It would be shut down during the majority of June and July for the first few years of operation but in time it was likely to process specialist products over these winter months.

Gardians combines two Kiwi family businesses, both with a passion for keeping the value and the product integrity in NZ.

One of NZ’s largest independent milk producers, Paterson is involved through shareholdings and directorship with several dairy industry related companies including Big River Dairy Ltd, Gardians Dairy Ltd, Clydevale Dairy Farms Ltd, Open Country Dairy Ltd and Greenfield Nutrition Ltd.

Big River Dairy Ltd, registered in November 2009, was a fully owned NZ company that wanted to see profits retained in NZ. By sourcing milk from its own exclusive group of sustainably run farms Gardians could ensure the optimal starting point for its range of infant nutritional products – “A true grass to glass story of product origin and true input traceability.”

It was the combination of Sutton Group’s expertise in engineering, manufacturing and packaging and Paterson’s expertise as an independent milk producer that provided the building blocks for Gardians.

The Gardians journey begins on the banks of the Clutha River where an 11,500 strong herd of dairy cows graze on fully owned, independent farms. Milk is sourced from the select group of farms and dairy herds under Paterson’s control.

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