Kiwi fresh milk brand launches in China


New Zealand companies are airfreighting up to 10 tonnes of fresh milk a week to China, with the latest exporter to enter the market former Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English.

Auckland-based company Oravida has been exporting fresh milk to China for several years. One of its directors is the husband of National MP Judith Collins.

English, who runs a company called Agribusiness New Zealand, said he had launched his Southern Pure brand just four weeks ago, using online channels to market it, and pricing it between $8 and $12 a litre.

Chinese milk costs $3 to $5.50 a litre, depending on the brand.

The milk is aimed at wealthy Chinese worried about recent scandals over milk quality and even deaths after products like melamine were added to milk.

"It's taken a lot to get over the line," English said. "It's been a massive learning curve with all the protocols and approvals from the Chinese authorities, and the logistics of sending and storing it."

New Zealand exporters compete with Australian, Korean and Japanese for the Chinese fresh milk market. Queensland dairy company Norco has recently started exporting, saying it hoped to build its fresh milk exports to China to 20 million litres a year.

"It's taken a long time to reach the point where we are flying the stuff. It's an exciting opportunity but there are risks and you need systems to ensure the integrity of your products," English said.

"It's a niche product. The good thing about the milk is that people experience what we New Zealanders do - a fresh clean, free-range product," he said.

English and Oravida both source their milk from independent dairy company Green Valley, based at Mangatawhiri, south of Auckland.

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