China market laps up Miraka milk

The milk processing firm Miraka is tripling production to meet a growing thirst for its UHT products in China.

Miraka's chief executive Richard Wyeth said the company has significant growth plans for China, where the market is literally drinking up its product.

"We're delivering good quality UHT milk and our stakeholders in China are building good brand awareness, which is helping to drive up sales of our products," Wyeth said.

Waikato-based Miraka is the first company in the world to use renewable steam to run milk powder processing operations. Since founding in 2011, it has grown rapidly and now exports its milk products to 23 countries.

Wyeth said demand for the company's UHT milk in China will double in the year to the end of July, and will triple the next - to 60 million litres. Miraka has taken on an additional 17 milk suppliers to help meet this increase in demand.

The company is owned by a group of Maori trusts and incorporations, and won the inaugural He Kai Kei Aku Ringa award for Maori Excellence in Export in last year's New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA), run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

This year marks the 50th year of the prestigious awards, which celebrate the success of New Zealand businesses on the world stage.

Wyeth said Miraka gained important insights when it entered the awards.

"We always thought we were doing okay, but the awards allowed us to benchmark ourselves against some fantastic companies and come out on top. That showed us we were achieving at the very highest level."

He said Maori exporters entering the awards should put a lot of effort into telling their story and aspirations to the judges.

Miraka is continuing to strive for excellence and innovation, and won the Te Tupu-a-Nuku Award for Business and Innovation in last month's Matariki Awards.

The company is driven by intergenerational views of business and sustainability, and recently launched its new on farm excellence programme, Te Ara Miraka, which provides farmers with incentives to achieve high standards in all aspects of their farming practice.

"We want our farmers to be the best they can be, and rewarding them for excellence will benefit their business and ours," said Wyeth.

NZTE's director of Maori customers, Tina Wilson, oversees a team that works with more than 100 Maori businesses to help them succeed internationally.

Iwi and Maori incorporations are really looking to gear themselves up to make a quantum shift towards high value products, not just milk and beef to the farm gate.

Wilson said Miraka is among Maori businesses that have vast potential to increase their value offshore.

"Iwi and Maori incorporations are really looking to gear themselves up to make a quantum shift towards high value products, not just milk and beef to the farm gate," she said.

NZTE also helps Maori businesses find the right partners and investors to help them grow.

"It's not about Maori doing this on their own. This is about Maori businesses having a relationship with mainstream business, and then working together," said Ms Wilson.

The Māori economy is a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy, with the latest figures showing it contributed $11 billion to the country's economic growth (GDP) in 2013.

It's not about Maori doing this on their own. This is about Maori businesses having a relationship with mainstream business, and then working together.

Maori businesses hold around $42 billion of assets, with $5 billion controlled by the 10 biggest entities.

Although many of these assets are in the primary sector, NZTE fosters companies across all sectors, including in high-tech where it is taking a group of Maori firms to the US to visit Silicon Valley later this year.

The NZIBA Maori Excellence in Export award recognises Māori businesses contribution to the New Zealand export economy - the approach, values and tikanga that underpin and uniquely define Māori business. The category is supported by sponsors the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Te Puni Kokiri, and The Treasury.

Exporters entering the NZIBA choose one of three main categories depending on their size, and they can also enter any of the six special categories.

During the last 50 years of the NZIBA, many of New Zealand's most iconic companies have been celebrated in the awards hall of fame, including Tonka, Tip Top and the Apple and Pear Marketing Board (now ENZA). To celebrate 50 years of business icons, a special exhibition has been created that will be on display at the awards ceremony in November.

ANZ has been the awards strategic partner since 2009. The awards other sponsors are KPMG, MFAT, Callaghan Innovation, Kotahi, MBIE, Te Puni Kōkiri and Treasury.

Entries for the NZIBA close July 8. To find out more about the awards visit www.nziba.co.nz

- NZ Herald

NZTE supplied content

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