Open Country Dairy – Milk Processor Scales Up Plant

Milk powder shipments leaving Wanganui by rail are set to double in a few months as Open Country Dairy commissions a second spray dryer at its Imlay plant in time for the start of the new dairy season.

Open Country, New Zealand’s second largest dairy processor, draws on quality milk from dairy farms in the Wanganui, Manawatu and Taranaki districts. Its Wanganui plant began operating six years ago after what Chief Executive Steve Koekemoer says was a fruitful, collaborative engagement with a proactive district council.

“The council made it much easier to get the planning process under way and there was good communication throughout. Where the council has resources, such as designing the roading infrastructure for the expanded plant, we haven’t been afraid to ask and we haven’t had any pushback.”

Open Country also enjoys good working relationships with local suppliers and contractors. Early discussions with local business’ lead to the provision of warehousing, container park capacity, engineering resource and transport opportunities.  An example of this was in 2010, where it resulted in the commissioning of the rail extension that allows Open Country’s annual production (which is soon to double) of milk powder to be transported to port.

“All our suppliers have done a great job,” says Steve Koekemoer.  “By working with them a ‘business hub’ has been created that’s allowed other businesses to take advantage of the infrastructure and efficiency gains for all based on the business Open Country has bought to the region”.

“We found when it came to extending the operational rail line, all we had to do was get the right people around the table.”

He says Open Country has also had great support from its milk suppliers and the new dryer will process milk from both new suppliers and increased production from existing suppliers. “We’ve just offered farmers a choice and they appreciate that.”