Getting started in dairy

If you want to manufacture, import, store, or transport dairy products, find out where you can get information about the legal requirements you need to meet.

Working out which laws apply to you

The legal requirements that apply to your business depend on whether you're:

Requirements also depend on whether these activities are for the New Zealand market or for export.

In general, dairy operations must meet the requirements of the Animal Products Act 1999. Regulations, notices, and specifications explain the Act’s requirements. You can find out more about these in the dairy roadmap.

Dairy legislation roadmap [PDF, 995 KB]

Milking animals

You must operate under a risk management programme (RMP) if you milk animals, and either:

  • sell the milk to a dairy processor, or
  • make dairy products that you will sell.

The RMP sets out the procedures for operating your dairy business.

Find out more about farm dairy requirements

Selling raw drinking milk

If you want to sell the milk from your animals directly to consumers for consumption as raw (unpasteurised) milk, you must register under the Raw Milk for Sale to Consumers Regulated Control Scheme (RCS). You don't need an RMP if this is the only use of the milk from your animals.

Find out more about selling raw drinking milk to consumers

Manufacturing dairy products

If you intend to make dairy products:

  • for export – you must have an RMP
  • that will only be sold in New Zealand or Australia (the domestic market) – you must have either a food control plan or an RMP.

Choosing the right food safety programme for your dairy business

Introduction to dairy manufacturing requirements

RMP templates for specific dairy products

We've developed RMP templates for some specific dairy products such as yoghurt, ice cream, cheese, liquid milk, and raw milk products. Using a template can help you make sure you meet all the requirements for products you’re intending to sell on the domestic market.

Requirements for manufacturing yoghurt, ice cream, cheese, liquid milk, and raw milk products

Transporting and storing dairy products

The requirements for transporting or storing dairy products depend on whether the product is intended for export, or for sale in Australia and New Zealand.

Principally dairy determination for multi-ingredient food

If you manufacture, process, or sell products that contain dairy, this procedure and form will help you determine whether a multi-ingredient food is considered to be a dairy product under New Zealand standards. This includes products such as tablets, supplements, and fortified foods that contain dairy ingredients.

Procedure for principally dairy determinations [PDF, 408 KB]

Principally dairy determination form [PDF, 525 KB]

Exporting dairy products

If you’re an exporter, you must meet general requirements such as registration. The dairy products you export must be manufactured under an RMP. However, if you’re exporting only to Australia, you can manufacture under a food control plan.

Importing dairy products

If you import dairy products, you need to know about the general requirements for importers. There are also extra requirements if you're importing raw milk products or some types of cheese.

Find out about importing dairy

Advice for food importers, including importers of dairy products

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Who to contact

If you have questions about manufacturing requirements for dairy products, email

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