This article was published on 14 October 2014
Callaghan Innovation is helping New Zealand food and beverages businesses by investing $3 million to assist FoodWaikato establish wet processing facilities at its pilot scale spray dryer plant, as part of New Zealand’s Food Innovation Network.
The funds will contribute to a $5 million upgrade of FoodWaikato’s open access pilot manufacturing facility in Hamilton that will provide innovative food and beverage producers from anywhere in New Zealand with a more complete platform for development and innovation.
Callaghan Innovation’s CEO Dr Mary Quin says this investment is part of the organisation’s goal of helping businesses in New Zealand succeed through innovation, in this case by encouraging faster and more cost effective development of smart new food and beverage products.
The expansion will involve installing new wetside processing equipment that will allow specialty ingredients such as vitamins, minerals and oils to be blended with milk or fruit juice as liquids – before being spray dried in the facility. Spray drying is a method of rapidly producing a powder from a liquid.
The facility will allow companies to move from manufacturing ingredients that sell for around US$4,700 per tonne to US$20,000 per tonne. At full capacity, it will be able to produce around 2,500 tonnes of new, value-added products.
“This will be the only open access spray drying facility in Australasia where companies can manufacture small runs of their first commercial batch of a new product,” Dr Quin says.
“It will help New Zealand businesses turn innovations into high value exports, helping grow our economy.”
The investment is from $72 million in capital provided to support the establishment and development of Callaghan Innovation.
Capital works are due to kick off in October and the new wetside processor will be commissioned and fully operational in March 2015. Once completed, it is expected employment at the plant will increase from 8 to 20 staff.
Over the past two years, FoodWaikato has been used to help researchers develop commercial quantities of food products for market testing. It has also processed milk powder for the Dairy Goat Co-operative and has also spray dried avocado waste into high-value, pure powder ingredients for Avocado Oil New Zealand.
FoodWaikato has already received interest in the new facility from companies in New Zealand and Australia.
FoodWaikato is one of four facilities throughout New Zealand that make up the Food Innovation Network, alongside Auckland’s FoodBowl, Palmerston North’s FoodPilot, and FoodSouth in Christchurch. These facilities collectively provide a shared innovation infrastructure essential to growing New Zealand’s food and beverage industry.