A new pet food canning plant in Christchurch has initial capacity for 30 million cans a year, 95% for export to global brands.
The Riverland Foods plant in Hornby will produce three can sizes of cat and dog wet foods, offering a third-party manufacturing opportunity that hasn’t been available from New Zealand before.
A small number of existing canneries are either running at full capacity on their own brands or have long-term contracts for a small number of large clients.
“Not producing our own brand gives us a real point of difference,” Riverland general manager Michael Dance said.
“All customers are treated equally. It also provides us with flexibility to meet the changing market demands such as different product textures and formulations.”
NZ is known for high-class ingredients and strong country brand and reputation, leaving pet food companies frustrated they couldn’t make products here.
What is already canned here is small in comparison to the ingredients shipped off-shore and the huge demand worldwide.
The main inputs will be cattle and sheep offals and meat-and-bone meal, supplemented with chicken, fish and perhaps venison.
The ingredients will be sourced directly or indirectly from the main meat processors, increasing local demand alongside the export frozen trade in what is generally a market with stable prices.
A commissioned market study done by Coriolis in 2021 forecast a pet food export market potential of $1 billion annually. That market is currently over $300 million.
Riverland will begin with customers in the United States, Asia and Australia.
The Hornby facility has a test kitchen and food technology back-up to develop and verify styles.
Another Riverland advantage is an ability to quickly adjust recipes as demand changes for cat food, with various cats preferring different textures such as mousse, paté or chunky-with-gravy styles.
All of these textures have a different mouth feel and for cats that is really critical, Dance said.