Approval of PGP programme gives a boost to the sheep milk industry

New Zealand’s fledgling sheep milk industry has been given a significant boost today with approval of the business case for a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Spring Sheep Milk Co.  The new ‘Sheep – Horizon Three’ PGP programme aims to develop a market driven, end-to-end value chain generating annual revenues of between $200 million and $700 million by 2030.

The ministry invests in cutting-edge innovation programmes through the PGP in partnership with industry.

It will be investing $12.56 million (40 per cent) into the new programme; Spring Sheep Milk Co will invest $18.83m, representing a total investment of $31.39m over its six-year life.

Spring Sheep Milk Co is a 50/50 partnership between Landcorp and a number of New Zealand investors through SLC Ventures LP.

Its co chief executive Scottie Chapman says with PGP support, sheep milk represents a unique opportunity for New Zealand to build a high-value sheep milk industry.

“Internationally, there is significant and growing demand for sheep milk, especially from Asia, where consumers like its nutritional value, flavour and digestibility. With the right approach, New Zealand is in an ideal position to develop the sheep milk products to meet this demand.  Our PGP programme with MPI allows us to do that in a planned and systematic way so we create a high-value, sustainable industry from the get-go,” says Mr Chapman.

“Establishing an end to end value chain will ensure that these returns are generated, and retained in New Zealand at every stage – on farm, through processing and then into marketing.”

Mr Chapman says the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme provides real opportunity for those people already involved in sheep milking, and those who want to enter the industry.

“To achieve a sheep milk industry delivering domestic and export returns at the upper range of $700 million, New Zealand will need up to 55 farms managed by farmers with specific sheep milking expertise. The current farming model in New Zealand won’t achieve this, which is why this joint investment between ourselves and MPI is so critical.”

Spring Sheep Milk Co currently operates one farm of around 4000 East Friesian sheep near Taupo.

Mr Chapman says the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme will establish another important industry that will provide a real economic boost for New Zealand that is environmentally and socially sustainable.

“We’re pleased MPI shares our vision for ensuring from the outset that New Zealand’s sheep milk industry has the right structures and processes to achieve the highest value returns through demand-driven growth, high value product development, best practice farming systems and high performance dairy sheep.”

The ministry’s director-general, Martyn Dunne, says Spring Sheep Milk Co will be able to help drive sustainable industry growth by investing in a number of important areas through the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme.

“This includes market intelligence to guide a programme of high-value product development and establishing a research farm to increase the genetic merit of the sheep.  It also includes developing farming and environmental systems, and building the right capability and skills required for successful sheep milk farming in New Zealand.

“We’re very excited about the benefits the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme will bring for our wider sheep milk industry and the high value products it aims to deliver for consumers in New Zealand and overseas.”

The ministry and Spring Sheep Milk Co are now negotiating a contract so the programme can formally begin.

Approval of the business case is subject to a small number of conditions.  These include:

  • a programme plan setting out how other New Zealand operators will work with the programme and how they will access the Sheep – Horizon Three programme’s resources
  • development of an ‘Outcome Logic Model’ linked to the contract illustrating programme outcome measures and how progress will be tracked.

Established in 2015, Spring Sheep Milk Co is a boutique marketing company that aims to ensure only the best products reach customers and that they are tailored and refined to meet the needs of its global customers and consumers.

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