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Following in the footsteps of a number of successful New Zealand companies looking to increase sales in China, Spring Sheep Milk Co. have become clients of Primary Collaboration New Zealand (PCNZ) Shanghai.

PCNZ was developed by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise head Peter Chrisp and former agriculture minister David Carter as a solution to double the sector’s exports. It aims to facilitate easier access to China.

The PCNZ Shanghai office opened in 2015, and its six shareholders comprise of seafood companies Sealord and Kono, meat processor Silver Fern Farms, dairy firm Synlait Milk, vintner Villa Maria Estate and horticulture collaboration Pacific Pace.

Mainland China is well on track to be the largest export market for Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s range of New Zealand sheep milk powder nutritional products, joining Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam. 

Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s General Manager – Sales Shane Topp says the office in China represents a strategically important step for the company and our commitment to building a sustainable future in these key export markets. 

“The reception to our products in China has been very encouraging, and we see great potential for our Infant formula range in particular. The value of sheep milk in China was demonstrated earlier this year when the Chinese government promoted dairy as a source of protein to boost immunity in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak,” Topp says. “Work is underway to recruit a China Country Manager who will lead the new office alongside additional staff as required in the coming years.”

Spring Sheep Milk Co. has been trading in China through Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall since July. From August to September, sales through its Tmall Global Flagship store more than doubled.

Since Spring Sheep Milk Co. was founded in 2015, by Government-owned enterprise Pāmu Farms of New Zealand and sales and marketing company SLC, its sights have been set on exporting to the APAC market.

Having a team on the ground in China will help Spring Sheep capitalise on the opportunities in the region and also ensures business continuity during Covid-times where travel may continue to be disrupted. 

Spring Sheep Milk Co. group is currently the largest sheep milking group in New Zealand following continued rapid expansion. There are currently seven farms commercial-scale farms in the group following the addition of three new supplier farms this season. Spring Sheep Milk Co. will continue this expansion to 11 farms in the next season following strong interest from the New Zealand farming community in their sheep milking model.

Chief Executive Scottie Chapman (pictured above) says given the scale of consumer demand, Spring Sheep Milk Co. are going to need a greater supply of milk and are actively recruiting new farmers to come on board. “Anyone interested should get in touch or come along to our Farm Open Day in Cambridge on the 4th of November,” Chapman says. “This is new for New Zealand, but if you look around the world, people have been drinking sheep milk for a millennia. When you consider our country’s reputation with sheep, combined with dairy farming, sheep milk is the natural evolution.”

The majority of New Zealand’s estimated 26 million sheep are bred for meat and wool, however, Chapman says adding more dairy sheep to this mix will deliver great returns for farmers.

Worldwide, the sheep milk industry is worth USD 8 billion at the farm gate and USD 30 billion at retail. A recent report undertaken by NZ Food & Innovation South Island (Food South) estimates that in the next two years (by 2024) the New Zealand Sheep milk industry could increase the sector’s economic contribution by NZD 250 million.

Meanwhile, Spring Sheep’s Gentle Sheep® Toddler Formula has proven successful in Malaysia where there is a high reported incidence of digestive issues. It was selected as a finalist in the Nutraingredients Asia Awards for Infant & Child Nutrition Initiative of the Year.

And in New Zealand, Spring Sheep Milk Co. is a finalist for Best Emerging Business at the Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2020 – Central.

Looking ahead to the next five years, Chapman is excited for the potential of Spring Sheep Milk Co. and New Zealand’s sheep milk industry as a whole, saying it’s not only bringing a new form of dairy to consumers, it’s creating jobs in the regions and improving the environmental footprint.

“We really hope it will be something Kiwis will be proud of having as an industry.” 

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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