Tokoroa is a step closer to becoming home to a new state-of-the-art dairy processing plant with the lead contractor being appointed to construct the facility.

ofi has appointed GEA New Zealand Ltd (GEA), with First Principles Contractors as a building partner, to construct its dairy plant in South Waikato.

The new plant will include innovative technology designed to reduce pollution, minimise water and energy use and ensure waste is handled in the most sustainable way possible.

Paul Rennie, Operations Director for ofi in New Zealand, said the company is delighted to work with a partner of GEA’s calibre.

“GEA has a proven track record of developing sustainable solutions for sophisticated production processes, which aligns directly with our goal of building a plant that operates as sustainably as possible,” Rennie said.

“The new facility will place Tokoroa at the forefront of advanced dairy product processing and technologies, open up new options for farmers in South Waikato and create career opportunities for local people.

“The project is also expected to involve up to 300 construction workers during peak phases of the build, which we hope will be a boost for the local economy and a catalyst for wider investment in the community.”

ofi, a global leader in natural and sustainable food ingredients and solutions, announced its plan to develop a new dairy processing facility in South Waikato in September.

The new plant, expected to be commissioned in Q3 of 2023, will be developed in stages, starting with a spray dryer with a capacity of one million litres of milk per day, capable of producing more than 45,000 tonnes of milk powder annually.

A second phase of construction will see more facilities added to extend the range of high value dairy ingredients that can be manufactured at the site.

Rennie said ofi greatly appreciated the support of local stakeholders, including Powerco, which has been assessing power options to support the infrastructure of the plant, and the South Waikato District Council.

Greg Martin, GEA Senior Director, Liquid & Powder Division, said the company is excited to partner with ofi in New Zealand, extending its long-standing relationship with the wider business working on similar projects overseas.

“We are looking forward to bringing our experience in working with ofi to construct similar world-class facilities in locations all over the world,” Martin said.

“The plant has been designed to optimise productivity, flexibility, and sustainability and will support local manufacturing to progress towards a more smart, sustainable and resilient future.”

ofi is currently taking expressions of interest from farmer suppliers, including those looking for winter milk supply options, as well as local employees, contractors and trade suppliers.