NZ sheep milk heads to Indonesia
Mon, 16 Apr 2012 6:16p.m.
By Patrick Gower
The Prime Minister is in Indonesia pushing New Zealand’s trade links there, which includes the export of sheep milk there.
Indonesia already has plenty of interest in New Zealand - in buying our farm land.
An Indonesian billionaire with close links to former President Suharto's family has taken a 50 per cent share in a Southland farming operation based in Brydon, Winton, and Hedge Hope.
It is a seemingly typical Southland dairy farm, but a closer look shows they are milking sheep - a flock of 15,000.
Southlander Keith Neylon came up with the idea, saying they produce better milk than cows.
"It’s quite sweet, its creamy, soft, its got a nice after taste flavour... And it makes brilliant ice cream,” he says.
Blue River Dairy is targeting Asia with their sheep milk.
In Indonesia there are 243 million people, and a booming middle class that wants protein-based products.
"They like the product, it fits their psyche. It is easily digested,” Mr Neylon says.
Prime Minister John Key has never tried sheep milk but is impressed with the idea.
“That's a great example of something that's not really of interest in New Zealand, but is really of interest to the Asian market.”
To get to this point Mr Neylon had to sell a 50 percent stake in the 1500 hectare farm to Mohamed Tachril, one of Indonesia's richest men who owns numerous Indonesian shopping malls.
The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale based on Mr Tachril’s contacts, Mr Neylon says.
"He's been in New Zealand for 20 odd years. He loves the place and holidays there. He's an asset to both sides. He sees what Indonesia requires and he knows what we've got.”
And that asset includes Tachril's connections here, such as to the family of Indonesia's former dictator Suharto through long-established business dealings with one of his sons.
“I knew they were related earlier on. But that was then, this is now,” Mr Neylon says.
Mr Key says connections like these should not stop investment.
"I think they are a fact of life in Asia. The Suharto family and their wide ranging interests were well known.”
Mr Neylon forcefully dismisses criticism of foreign ownership like with his venture or the Crafar farms as "xenophobic".
“I think it comes from a degree of small-mindedness.”
Mr Key says Indonesia is an opportunity for New Zealand.
"There’s a massive market out here. It’s one thing to recognise the market, its another thing to have the tentacles to reach into it."
So as the debate about foreign ownership rages on in New Zealand, the question is whether to shut out investors who own places like Mr Neylon’s sheep farm - and can break down the barriers to Indonesia's trillion dollar economy.
And the Government's position is clear - we need to seize these opportunities - or we will squander them.
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6/05/2012 6:00:17 p.m.
Go Vegan wrote:
I live within a few hundred metres of the "Blue River Dairy" factory on Nith Street Invercargill, and I can tell you, its GROSS! The tanker trucks often park over the pavement, so people cannot walk past without walking through an intersection, and when they dump the animal milk into the gutters, it sits around, turning yellow and attracting flies.
That enough would be enough to turn you off drinking animals milk, seeing what looks like margarine in the gutters, stinking to high hell as the flies writhe through it!
17/04/2012 8:44:45 a.m.
Realistic Kiwi wrote:
Animal exploitation in NZ is nothing compared to Kiwis... in overcrowded houses, garages, caravans and even underneath motorway overpass(es)...get real!
16/04/2012 11:38:06 p.m.
What a great dumb idea. Instead of sustainable plant based trade, we further extend our short-sightedness with more animal exploitation. Shame on you John Key you're nothing but an embarrassment.
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