New Zealand Dairy

The New Zealand Dairy Industry

(excerpt from Wikipedia)

New Zealand dairy farming began from small beginnings during the early days of colonization by Europeans. The income from New Zealand dairy farming is now a major part of the economy and has become a NZ$11 billion industry by 2010.

Back in 1814 the missionary Samuel Marsden introduced the first Shorthorn dairy cows to the Bay of Islands from New South Wales. From the 1840’s, most settlements had farms with some Shorthorn dairy cattle. Herds tended to be larger near urban areas.

The first dairy co-operative was established on Otago Peninsula in 1871. In 1881, the newly arrived colonist William Bowron gave a series of lectures propounding the notion that the institution of dairy factories, for the mass production of cheese, would be greatly advantageous to the economy of New Zealand. He was largely instrumental in the establishment of the Ashburton Cheese and Butter Factory at Flemington, managed by William Harding, son of the Cheddar Cheese founder Joseph Harding. The venture was a great success, and consequently Bowron was appointed Government Inspector of Dairy Factories in 1883. In this capacity, he largely facilitated the setting up of factories across the country until his death in 1890. He published three pamphlets on the manufacture of cheese, butter and bacon in New Zealand.

By 1920, there were 600 dairy processing factories of which about 85% were owned by co-operatives. In the 1930s there were around 500 co-operatives but after World War II, improved transportation, processing technologies and energy systems led to a trend of consolidation where the co-operatives merged and became larger and fewer in number. By the late 1990s, there were four co-operatives: the Waikato-based New Zealand Dairy Group, the Taranaki-based Kiwi Co-operative Dairies, the Hokitika based Westland Milk Products and Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company.

New Zealand Dairy Industry


New Zealand is the world’s eighth largest milk producer, with about 2.2% of world production. Total production was 1.3 billion kg of milk solids, and NZ$8.38 billion of dairy products were exported in the year ending 30 September 2007.

Traditional Dairy production areas are the wetter areas of the country: Waikato, Taranaki, Southland, Northland, Horowhenua, Manawatu and Westland. Before the advent of refrigerated shipping in the 1880s, dairy production was entirely for local consumption, with butter and cheese usually being produced on the farm, with the surplus being sold to the community via the local store. Small dairy factories began to be established in the 1880s, and soon there was one in almost every village in dairying regions. Production began to be centralised in the second half of the 20th century, with facilities such as the Fonterra plants at Whareroa (near Hawera), Edendale, Clandeboye (near Timaru), and Te Rapa being the four largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Whareroa is also currently the largest dairy factory in the world by milk intake.

Fonterra is the largest processor of milk in New Zealand. It processes 94.8 percent of all milk solids from dairy farms. Other large dairy companies are Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company, Westland Milk Products and Synlait.

There are approximately 4.2 million dairy milking cows in New Zealand, and 5.26 million dairy cattle in total at 30 June 2007, an increase from 3 million in 1982. In mid-2005, there were 12,786 dairy farms, with a total area of 2.1 million hectares.

(excerpt from Wikipedia)

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