Getting started in dairy

If you harvest, manufacture, import, store, or transport dairy products, you need to meet legal requirements to ensure the products are safe for consumption and suitable for their intended use.

Legal requirements

The requirements depend on whether you are milking animals, manufacturing dairy products, or storing and transporting dairy products, and 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 (APA) 1999. Regulations, notices, and specifications explain the Act’s requirements.

Roadmap dairy legislation [PDF, 991 KB]

Harvesting milk

If you want to milk animals and either sell the milk to a dairy processor or make dairy products that you will sell, you must operate under a registered risk management programme (RMP). This RMP sets out the procedures for operating your business.

If you want to sell the milk from your animals directly to consumers for consumption as raw (unpasteurised) milk, you have to register under the Regulated Control Scheme (RCS). You do not need an RMP if this is the only use of the milk from your animals.

RMPs for dairies

RCS for sale of raw milk directly to consumers

Manufacturing dairy products

If you intend to manufacture dairy products for export, you need to have a registered and verified risk management programme (RMP).

If you manufacture dairy products for sale in New Zealand or Australia – the domestic market – then you must meet the requirements of the APA. This means you must have a food control plan (FCP) or an RMP.

Choosing and preparing the right plan

Food control plans

Risk management programmes

MPI has developed RMP templates for some 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.

Dairy manufacturing requirements

Our Introduction to dairy manufacturing webpage includes more about the requirements for manufacturing dairy products and meeting food safety requirements.

Introduction to dairy manufacturing

Selling dairy products

If you sell dairy products in New Zealand made by a registered dairy manufacturer, you need to meet the same requirements as other food retailers.

Retail and wholesale

Importing dairy products

If you import dairy products, you need to know about the general requirements for importers.

Importing dairy 

There are specific requirements for importing raw milk products.

Advice for food importers 

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.

Transport and storage

Exporting dairy products

If you’re an exporter, you must meet general requirements such as registration, and the dairy products you export must be manufactured under a registered RMP. If you’re exporting only to Australia, you can manufacture under a registered FCP.

Exporting dairy

Principally dairy determination

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 determination [PDF, 408 KB]

Principally dairy determination form [PDF, 525 KB]

Keep up to date

It’s important to keep up with any new or revised dairy information, including requirements, consultations, policies and other content changes.

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