Whai Hua - new dairy products and value chains

Developing dairy wellness products was the key goal of the Whai Hua PGP programme which ended on 31 December 2016. The programme’s industry partners were Miraka, Wairarapa Moana Inc (WMI) and Kanematsu. The research partner was AgResearch.

Key facts

Programme started: March 2012
Programme ended: December 2016 
Total programme cost: $4.117 million 
Crown funding paid out : $2,036,301
Commercial partners: Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani Incorporation, Miraka Ltd, Kanematsu New Zealand Ltd 
Estimated economic benefits to NZ: $5.0 million to $16.4 million per year in economic benefits by 2021.


Aerial view of dairy factory
Developing immune-enhancing dairy milk products.

Supplying ingredients for food manufacture has long been a cornerstone of the New Zealand dairy industry's business. The challenge is to develop new, added-value ingredients that will enhance the offering, based on working closely with in-market partners.

For Whai Hua, there is an added challenge to create a niche for themselves as well as an opportunity to help develop Maori agribusiness capability.

This PGP programme aimed to develop immune-enhancing dairy milk products targeting health-conscious consumers in Asian and New Zealand markets.

It has done this by developing dairy herds which produce milk which has high immune-enhancing properties, product development, functionality testing and market research.

Outcome Logic Model

Programme outcomes

  • The final summary report for the programme is available below.
  • During the four years of the programme, the majority of intended outcomes were achieved across a range of farm production, milk processing, marketing and efficacy research and development.
  • The programme has successfully developed a skim milk powder (SMP) product containing high levels of a natural immune enhancing compound.
  • Research results indicate that the target compound in bovine milk acts in a similar way to its counterpart in human milk, binding with a wide range of bacteria.
  • Results also demonstrate that SMP with elevated levels of the target compound dampen down infection levels of pathogenic bacteria in the gut of mice.
  • The results of this research have been published in independently reviewed international journals.
  • An elite herd of 510 cows has been assembled containing naturally high levels of the target compound. A standard operating procedure has been prepared to expand the herd.
  • The programme was unsuccessful in developing a specific probiotic product, as immunisation trials did not generate a viable immune response.
  • Optimal skim milk powder processing specifications that retain functional activity of the natural target compound have been determined. These have been successfully tested at a commercial scale, achieving 70 percent activity retention of the target compound – sufficient to provide confidence for commercial production.
  • This new processing method has provided significant spin-off opportunities from the programme, in the form of other food products with high bioactive levels.
  • Target markets and customers for market development with specific product opportunities have been identified for future commercialisation. The Whai Hua partners are investing in further functionality/efficacy research to support marketing initiatives in the product areas.
  • A collaborative agreement to undertake an evaluation of the target SMP product has been signed with a major international company. A number of other customers are also evaluating opportunities to use the product.
  • Expected net economic benefits to New Zealand over the next five years range from $5.0 million to $16.4 million per year depending on which product-market options are pursued and are successful. Additional spill-over benefits of the programme are stronger collaboration between and capability in the Maori business partners and R&D institutions.
  • Whai Hua will continue to report to MPI on the success of its commercialisation initiatives for the target product from the programme and other medium-term outcomes over the next five years.

Programme Evaluation Report

Final Programme Summary Report


Progress review summary report


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