Building an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable industry to meet the growing demand for sheep milk products is the goal of a new sheep milk Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme that has officially kicked off.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Spring Sheep Milk Co. have signed a contract for the new Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme, which means the programme can formally start.
Sheep – Horizon Three will provide a major boost by creating a high value, sustainable sheep milk industry in New Zealand. Internationally, sheep milk is growing in demand. This is particularly clear in Asia, where consumers like its nutritional value, flavour and digestibility.
Scottie Chapman, Chief Executive of Spring Sheep Milk Co., says "With a market-led approach, New Zealand is in an ideal position to develop the sheep milk products that will grow this sector. Our PGP programme with MPI allows us to do that in a planned and systematic way that ensures we create a high-value, sustainable industry from the get-go."
The goals of the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme are ambitious. It aims to develop a market driven, end-to-end value chain for sheep milk generating annual revenues of between $200 million and $700 million by 2030.
As well as the high value sheep milk products expected to be delivered by the programme, an exciting aspect is the collaboration it will enable across New Zealand’s emerging sheep milk industry.
Through sharing the knowledge and expertise gained, the programme will establish a platform for industry to build up to 55 farms over time. These farms will have optimised farm systems to meet New Zealand conditions, managed by farmers with specific sheep milking expertise.
Martyn Dunne, Director-General of MPI, says "New Zealand’s sheep milk industry is still in its infancy and the increasing demand for sheep milk in New Zealand and overseas provides an ideal opportunity for growth."
"Through the Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme we are building a sheep milk industry, which will have ongoing benefits.
"Establishing an end-to-end value chain will ensure that returns are generated across the sheep milk industry – from on farm, through processing and then into marketing. Importantly, this value will be retained in New Zealand at every stage.
"Collaboration across New Zealand’s sheep milk industry, particularly at this relatively early stage, will provide a strong and necessary foundation for growth.
"Over the next few years, Spring Sheep Milk Co. will develop the right farming system for New Zealand sheep milking, alongside importing new genetics to start breeding sheep suited to milking in the unique New Zealand environment.
"Through our PGP we invest in cutting-edge innovation programmes in partnership with industry to deliver significant value for New Zealand. The Sheep – Horizon Three programme squarely fits within this ethos."
MPI will be investing $12.56 million (40%) into the new programme with Spring Sheep Milk Co. investing $18.83 million, representing a total investment of $31.39 million over its 6 year life.
With the addition of Sheep – Horizon Three, there are 20 PGP programmes currently underway representing a committed MPI and industry investment of almost $760 million over the lifetime of the programmes.