An infant formula blending and packaging facility is being planned for Ashburton after the sale of a section at Council's Ashburton Business Estate.
The sale of lot 17 to New Zealand Dairy Collaborative Group (NZDCG) at the estate went unconditional on 31 March. Fineboon is the major shareholder of NZDCG which is the largest goat milk infant formula brand in China.
The company plans to process infant goat milk formula in Ashburton and export it in cans back to China ready for sale.
NZDCG Managing Director Solomon Ling says Ashburton is well set up for potential goat farming due to the well irrigated farmlands and abundance of grain producers.
"To date, most of our products are locally manufactured in China. However, more and more consumers in China are willing to pay more for imported milk powder. To maintain the market leadership, Fineboon needed to expand overseas.
"We are pleased to be in Ashburton. We have heard great things about the district and the Ashburton District Council staff have been very helpful which has given us a lot of confidence to establish our overseas operation here."
The new infant formula blending and packaging facility will have a 4,000 square metre floor area and produce about 1,500 cans of infant formula per hour to begin with.
Commercial Manager James Webb says the sale of lot 17 in the estate is a terrific start to the year.
"The Council-owned estate is proving an attractive location for new businesses to the district and for local business looking to expand."
Mr Webb says the estate's flexible options and affordable rates have seen a range of companies start operations here including warehousing, light manufacturing, agri-business, food processing and heavy engineering firms.
Mr Ling says the company is coordinating with machinery suppliers, architects and engineers to design the factory.
"As soon as this is complete, we will submit a building consent to Council. If everything goes according to plan, we would hope to break ground in the middle of 2015.
Mayor Angus McKay says the Ashburton Business Estate was set up to develop opportunities for businesses to come to Ashburton and build new enterprises or expand existing ones and the venture proposed by NZDCG is a perfect example of this.
He says there are already some goat farm operations in the North Island and he hopes this type of farming can soon be established in Mid Canterbury too.
"This could be an attractive proposition for sheep and crop farmers, particularly if the returns are better."