New Zealand sheep milk supplier Maui Milk says it is experiencing rapid growth which has led to a shareholding change, structural change and resource injection to equip the business for expansion.
Maui Milk Ltd is currently supplied by 13 farms, and since its formation six years ago, has been jointly owned by Shanghai-based Super Organic Dairy and Māori farming trust, Waituhi Kuratau (WKT).
The company has announced it is moving into a growth phase, beyond the scope of Waituhi Kuratau's ability to fund, leading Super Organic Dairy to purchase WKT's shares and combine all elements of the business under one entity: Maui Food Group Limited.
Natalie Dang will lead Maui Food Group Limited as managing director and shareholder representative.
Previously Maui Milk's genetics business, the milk production and processing business and the marketing arm were held in separate legal entities.
Maui Milk chief executive Leah Davey remains in her position.
She said the new corporate grouping provided both the resources and the structure the business needed to build an independent milk supply while diversifying products and export markets.
"Independent suppliers will produce the milk using our genetics, while our team focuses greater resource on the opposite end of the value chain – opening up new markets and securing new customers."
Maui Milk only needed one farm to provide the base for its genetics programme, which was all about breeding dairy ewes for New Zealand conditions, Davey said.
"We've already experienced great results with our Southern Cross breed, and the first wave of third-party farm conversions has demonstrated what our ewes are capable of."
"As a result of this success, Maui Milk has been overwhelmed with enquiries from potential farmer suppliers, creating the need for a careful balance between supply and demand."
Maui Milk supply arrangements with dairy giant Danone remain unchanged.
Davey explained a key part of the company's strategy was to diversify its products range and markets.
She said customers continued to desire the Maui Milk brand based on the propositions of its milk coming from grass-fed animals, delivering premium nutrition and being sustainability managed.
She said New Zealand provenance also continued to hold huge value.
"Maui Milk's strategy is reflected in our new structure and new staff positions we've created in marketing, supplier support, sales and supply chain management.
"We're delighted with the calibre of our new team members who bring experience working with major international food brands including Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Oceania Dairy and Danone."
Maui Milk recently moved into new offices at the Waikato Innovation Park in Hamilton.
Its milk is processed at Food Waikato which is also on the Waikato Innovation Park campus.
The new Maui Food Group Limited board is further boosted by two new directors with experience in milk processing and international trade: Leon Fung and Patrick English.
Leon Fung has a distinguished career in the dairy industry, having worked with the NZ Dairy Board, Tetra Pak, Yashili and most recently Danone Oceania where he was Operations Director for New Zealand.
Patrick English has been appointed as the chair of Maui Food Group Limited and brings a wealth of experience in the China market, where he resided for many years in roles including NZ Trade Commissioner and Consul General in Southern China.
He was the NZTE representative for the NZ China FTA negotiations, and on returning to New Zealand was the first executive director of the NZ China Council, followed by other advisory and board roles between government and the private sector.