Milk processing facility

In association with six Māori (indigenous Polynesians) entities, Poutama Dairy Group plans to develop a milk processing facility in Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.

To be powered by geothermal energy, the plant will become the second geothermal-powered plant in the region after the Miraka milk powder plant near Taupō. It will produce high-end conventional and organic milk powders, as well as milk protein concentrate products for the domestic market in New Zealand.

A feasibility study of the project has been completed and is currently undergoing peer review. Poutama aims to start production by 2018 and the project is expected to create 30 jobs in the region.

Kawerau dairy processing plant developers

The Kawerau dairy plant is a collaborative project proposed by Poutama and the Māori entities of Te Manawa o Tūhoe, Māori Investments, Pūtauaki Trust, Ngati Makino, Rotoiti 15, and Tataiwhetu Lands Trust.

All entities are contributing financially towards feasibility studies and will also invest in the development of the plant.

Poutama will be responsible for marketing the products manufactured at the facility.

Location benefits of the dairy

The location of the dairy processing plant in Kawerau provides it with access to organic milk from the fertile Bay of Plenty pastures. The site also has ready access to the rail network and the Tauranga port for easy transport of produced products.

In addition, Kawerau has a good supply of clean spring water and low-cost geothermal energy, making the plant one of the most sustainable facilities in New Zealand.

Design and facilities of the geothermal-powered dairy plant

The processing plant is planned to be developed in phases, with two flexible drying platforms being installed in each stage.

Each of the driers will have capacity to process 750kg of milk product an hour. The first stage is estimated to require investment between $25m and $27m, while the second stage will cost between $15m and $17m.

The first development stage will include installation of a 750kg drier to process both conventional and organic cow milk. The second stage will produce products from goat and sheep milk. The plant will be also equipped with other standardised equipment for milk processing.

Milk will be sourced from within a 1km radius of the plant. For the first year of operation, 250,000l of milk a week will be secured through the Organic Hub co-operative. It will enable Kawerau to secure organic milk and produce certified organic products.

Products manufactured at Kawerau dairy plant

The Kawerau dairy plant will process cow, goat, and sheep milk into a range of products including protein powders, infant formulas, and aged care formulas.

The full season output of the plant is estimated to be more than 8,000mt of dried milk products. Major products will include milk protein concentrate 85 (MPC 85), organic whole milk powder, organic skim milk powder, and organic milk protein concentrate.

MPC 85 will be produced using membrane filtration and spray drying of pasteurised skimmed cow milk. It is a high-value product used in the production of nutraceuticals, sports drinks, and health bars.

All products produced by the plant will be packaged in 25kg multi-wall gas-flushed bags and 500kg bulk bins. The products will be certified as per European and US National Organic Programme (NOP) standards.

Future plans for the dairy processing plant

The developers plan to add a butter production plant, lactose plant, and a drinking yoghurt facility, based on need and demand in the future.

The butter and lactose production plants will have a capacity of around 50mt a day. They will also be certified organic under the European and NOP standards.