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NZ’s first independent product development spray dryer

20 January 2012

NZ’s first independent product development spray dryer lifted in place

Hamilton, New Zealand - 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 tonne was lifted into the new pilot plant today on the Waikato Innovation Park campus in Hamilton.

The $11 million product development 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 one-half tonne/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,” says Derek Fairweather, CEO of the Waikato Innovation Park.

Mr Fairweather says there is huge potential for specialty milk producers, in particular.

“This facility will give innovators in the industry the ability to come up with the next speciality 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,” explains Derek Fairweather.

The Dairy Goat Co-operative has already committed to utilising 40% 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 CEO, Dave Stanley, says the dryer facility will 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.”

Dave Shute, Operating Manager for the new plant, says the dryer facility gives smaller, innovative players in the speciality milk industry a chance to move innovation to commercialisation.

“New Zealand is a major player when it comes to supplying milk and food products to the world. And, Asia – particularly China – is an extremely important export market that is right on our doorstep. The challenge for producers, however, is developing new products that appeal to these consumers.

“The issue is that if you are a smaller player in the specialty milk industry, it’s difficult to gain access to a commercial manufacturing facility where you can test a new product and then scale it up to commercial production. The Innovation Park’s new dryer gives the innovators in the industry an amazing opportunity they never had before,” explains Mr Shute.

Mr Shute says the long-term strategy for the plant is to expand the spray dryer’s capability to manufacture infant formula, fruit and vegetable juice powders.

Finance for the dryer came from Innovation Waikato Ltd debt and a Government grant of $3.95 million.


Waikato Innovation Park Spray Dryer – At A Glance:
• Only independent development dryer in NZ
• $11 million project
• Capacity of one-half tonne/hour
• Construction completed in April 2012, operational in May
• Initial focus on manufacturing whole milk powders
• Long-term, the dryer will manufacture infant formula and fruit and vegetable powders
• The dryer is the Waikato component of the NZ Food Innovation Network
• Other NZ Food Innovation Network centres: Manukau, Palmerston North and Christchurch

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