The Government announced new investment in the sheep milk sector this week, recognising that global demand for sheep milk and sheep milk products is booming. Exports of New Zealand sheep milk products were valued at $20 million in 2020 and the local industry looks set for fast paced growth.
The Government is backing a project to support Māori landowners to invest in New Zealand’s rapidly growing sheep milk industry, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced on February 22nd.
“We are backing the Māori Agribusiness Sheep Milk Collective, which has ambitious goals to have multiple farms milking about 25,000 sheep and potentially employing more than 100 people by 2030,” Damien O’Connor said.
“We are injecting $700,000 into the Māori Agribusiness Sheep Milk Collective to help them explore the potential of their whenua to sustainably produce sheep milk at scale, create jobs and further grow this emerging export market.
“The collective is made up of 20 Māori land trusts and incorporations that own more than 24,000 hectares of land stretching from the western shore of Lake Taupō to the Hauraki Plains. Those sheep could initially produce more than six million litres of milk, or one million kilograms of milksolids, and within a kaupapa Māori-owned value chain.”
The collective was set up through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Māori Agribusiness Extension (MABx) programme, which has been allocated $12 million over four years to provide farmer-to-farmer support to Māori landowners and trustees.
“The investment is part of the Government’s Fit for a Better World roadmap, which aims for food and fibre sector exports to earn an extra $44 billion over 10 years,” Damien O’Connor said.
The Government is also supporting wider industry research to capitalise on growing demand for sheep milk.
“MPI is funding a $12.56 million six-year project with the aim of building a high-value and sustainable sheep dairy industry in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Damien O’Connor said.
“Last year construction and development was taking place across several new sheep dairy farms in the greater Waikato and a new infant formula was launched as part of the project.