Farming · 25 Jan 2021

Oat Milk Processing Will Soon Join Dairy in the South

Aimee Wilson

Aimee Wilson

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Southland will soon lead the way with plans for a New Zealand first oat milk processing plant underway.

Growers currently have to send their oats to Sweden for processing, and Great South has been working on the development of New Zealand’s first carbon neutral plant-based beverage factory.

The factory will be built in Makarewa and kick start a whole new industry for New Zealand, alongside dairy.

New Zealand Functional Foods is the company behind the initiative, and in the process of securing financing through various investors for the building phase.

Company chair Roger Carruthers said, when contacted, the factory would take 12-14 months to build once finance was secured.

“Climate change mitigation and people’s health improvements are core principles for us.  The processing plant will be an integral link in the supply chain including oat cultivar developers, seed producers, growers, Harraways and consumer brands.”

He said the company had moved from the conceptual stage to implementation after receiving seed funding from Sir Stephen Tindall’s investment company K1W1 late last year.

“The plant-based food and beverage market has exploded worldwide.  Southland is already on the world map as a premier destination for growing oats, due to our excellent climactic growing conditions, the quality of our soil and plenty of water.

“We expect our plant will have capacity and capability to process beverages from other plants, but our initial focus will be on oats,” he said.

Southland has had a long history of growing oats since the 1870s, and Roger said the province was in a unique position, “we have great regional food technology and manufacturing smarts and a track record of taking new products to the world.

“All of this combined with New Zealand’s great reputation for safe good tasting food products will give us a real market advantage.”

Great South chairman Ian Collier said they had been working on the potential of oats as a product for some time, with a view to supporting the diversification of the Southland economy.

“We are very excited about the potential that this project represents for investors, potential suppliers and ultimately a rapidly growing domestic and international customer base.”

Southland’s soil, land and temperature climate created the perfect conditions for growing oats, with the highest yield per hectare in the world.