New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Friday officially opened one of the biggest completed Chinese investments in New Zealand, a state-of-the-art infant formula plant in the village of Pokeno, just south of Auckland.
The plant represents an investment of 220 million NZ dollars (145.31 million U.S. dollars) by Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China's Yashili International Holdings Ltd. and Mengniu Dairy Co., Ltd..
The plant, built over three years on a hub between the rich dairy farming Waikato region and the export portals of Auckland and Tauranga, will produce formula for the Chinese market.
The 30,000-square-meter plant will employ 85 staff and have an annual production capacity of around 52,000 tons of formula product.
Shipments are expected to begin early next year.
"The operation of the Mengniu-Yashili New Zealand plant will help to build a global network for Mengniu and achieve globalization for the brand, as well as having historical significance for the promotion of sustainable development of the dairy industry worldwide," said Sun Yiping, chairperson of Yashili International Holdings at the opening.
With increasing urbanization, China was the fastest-growing dairy market in the world and its infant formula market is expected to grow to 32 billion NZ dollars (21.15 billion U.S. dollars) by 2017.
"I hope that the Mengniu-Yashili plant will be able to create an elite team based in New Zealand to embody a blending of cultures with an international vision and an integrated ability," said Sun.
Also present at the opening ceremony were Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand Wang Lutong, Chinese consul-general in Auckland Niu Qingbao, and Yashili International Holdings president Lu Minfang.