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Vision Pays Off In High Value Exports

A vision to extract complex lipids from milk fat and use them as key ingredients for babycare formulas and cosmetics has begun to pay off in multimillion-dollar export earnings.

NZ Dairy Group pursued the vision with support from Technology New Zealand and assistance from Industrial Research. Today the small milk fat extracts - complex lipids - are reaching up to $1000 a kilogram in overseas markets.

Milk gangliosides and phospholipids, as they are officially called, are a type of lipid found in the milk fat globular membrane. Lengthy research has led to them being extracted from the milkfat and used for extensive health and cosmetic benefits.

Product manager of the Dairy Group's Specialty Ingredients Group, Simon Yarrow, says it has been clearly shown that the lipids have potential to protect against infection. They are being used in supplements and baby infant formulas.

"Being from a natural source, given our very high standards of milk production and New Zealand's 100 per cent pure, clean image, there has been considerable overseas demand, particularly from Asian markets," Mr Yarrow says.

The product is not genetically modified and is guaranteed to be free of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease). "Milk phospholipids have recently been developed on a commercial scale," Mr Yarrow says. "They help retain water in the skin and moisture for face and hands and have been a big hit with some well-known European cosmetics manufacturers. The potential for exports to other markets looks enormous.

"It is believed that we are the only commercial scale manufacturer of these products in the world."

It has been a rapid growth in business and Mr Yarrow is expecting significant opportunities for the next generation of related products. Specialty Ingredients Group general manager Peter Hobman says support from Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology - was critical in developing the products.

"Even though the NZ Dairy Group is traditionally viewed as a large dairy manufacturer, it is very important that in developing high value, niche export markets, we continue to get a good level of support from external sources. We can't do all of the research in house," Mr Hobman says. Dairy Group received a commendation recently from the Foundation for its work on the lipids.

Caption: Product manager of NZ Dairy Group's Specialty Ingredients Group, Simon Yarrow (2nd left at back) and the team that helped develop the complex lipids as an export winner.

Contact:

* Peter Hobman, NZ Dairy Group, Ph: (07) 839-8398 Fax: (07) 827-9791 Email: peter.hobman@nzdairy.co.nz

* Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (04) 917 7800, or 025 454-095. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, ian@idcomm.co.nz


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