New Zealand firm Free Flow Manufacturing plans a dedicated plant-based milk facility this year and has signed oat milk company Otis as its foundation customer.
The new facility will be capable of producing 50 million litres of plant-based milk annually.
The deal will allow Otago-based Otis to return manufacturing of its popular oat milk from Sweden to NZ.
According to Free Flow Manufacturing co-founder Scott Day, the demand for plant-based milk alternatives is growing.
“Grocery spending on plant-based milks in New Zealand increased by 44% from 2019 to the end of 2022, with sales jumping from $61 million to $88m,” he said.
“The launch of our new plant-based milk facility in East Auckland is an important milestone for the sector, enabling it to reduce its carbon footprint, improve innovation and produce premium products locally for health-conscious consumers worldwide.”
Otis co-founders Tim Ryan and Chris Wilkie said they have been on a mission to return to making their oat milk in NZ ever since they launched in Lincoln, Canterbury in 2018.
“As we scaled up our production, we weren’t prepared to compromise on quality, and because of this, we’ve had to ship our New Zealand oats to Sweden for manufacture due to the lack of a local partner that has the technology required to produce premium oat milks to the gold standard we demand,” they said.
“The journey has been long and hard and has involved seven feasibility studies over eight different sites across Aotearoa, costing a lot of money and years of graft for a small startup.”
Free Flow Manufacturing is a contract beverage manufacturing facility operating out of a purpose-built plant in Auckland.
Established by co-founders Day, Adam Sorenson and Russell Hopper – initially to produce its own water brand, Vista – it now provides end-to-end contract manufacturing services.
The new manufacturing facility will see Free Flow Manufacturing’s existing footprint expand with an additional 2,500 square metres of production and another 4,000 square metres of warehousing.
According to the company, the same machinery that will be used in the new plant can be used to produce plant-based milk and brew and process beer.
Developed in conjunction with leading German machine manufacturer Krones and brewing technology masters Steinecker, this opens up yet another revenue stream for Free Flow and an opportunity for companies to reduce reliance on imported goods in favour of locally made products.