Blue River Dairy experiencing phenomenal global growth
Southland-based infant nutrition exporter Blue River Dairy plans to double sales next year through a new production line.
Invercargill City Council Chief Executive Clare Hadley recently toured the plant and said the Invercargill company was experiencing phenomenal growth.
Blue River Dairy General Manager Robert Boekhout said: “The past three years have seen us springboard from producing and exporting 400,000 cans of infant formula in 2016, to 2.5 million cans in 2017, to being on course to reach our 2018 target of 7.5 million cans.”
With the addition of the new canning line – Blue River Dairy was targeting production of 15 million cans in 2019.
To accomplish this Blue River Dairy, has doubled its permanent staff in the past 12 months, going from about 50 to about 105. At least 20 more staff will be required when the new canning line opens.
“It’s exciting that New Zealand’s fastest growing dairy business is sitting in Invercargill, providing secure, permanent, full-time employment to Southlanders,” Hadley said.
In 2017, Blue River Dairy was confirmed as one of New Zealand’s fastest growing businesses, coming in 10th on the Deloitte Fast 50 index.
With revenue growth of 445 per cent, Deloitte described Blue River Dairy as a pioneering infant nutrition business, which developed the world’s first sheep’s milk infant formula, and the only plant in the world producing different infant formulations using cow, goat and sheep milk.
“We’re known for sheep milk, but we’re an innovative infant nutrition business,” Boekhout said.
Blue River Dairy also won the inaugural Innovation in Export Award at the Export Southland Recognition dinner in September 2016, and picked up the Primary Sector Business Award at the 2017 Westpac Southland Business Excellence Awards.
Boekhout said the company had recognised an opportunity for significant growth by expanding into producing cow, and goat milk nutritional formulas.
“We believe we are the only infant nutrition plant in the world manufacturing three species products. We are very good at developing the market and delivering high quality, niche products into that market – and have steadily grown as a world leader in sheep milk products.”
Blue River Dairy had the ground-breaking for its new canning line construction project in February, extending the footprint of its Invercargill plant.
When Hadley asked about the company’s major challenges, Boekhout responded, “Recruiting enough staff to allow us to continue grow at such a rapid rate.
“I think we’re one of the most diverse workplaces in Southland. We have people from all sorts of backgrounds. This is why we are showcasing Southland as a fun, family-orientated and uniquely affordable, lifestyle region,” he said.
Blue River Dairy prided itself on having a great work culture where loyalty and dedication were highly valued – and the company’s low staff turnover rate indicated they had created a special environment, he said.
“New team members learn lots and we always try to have fun.”
Hadley said Blue River Dairy was actively recruiting in Southland, around New Zealand and globally to attract people to Southland.
“People can come into an area where there’s a job waiting, get a beautiful home, money in the bank, and be part of a great community,” she said.
Boekhout said they were encouraged by the expressions of interest and follow through of former Southlanders moving back to the region and people wanting to relocate for a significantly better lifestyle.
“We’ve got a really innovative, world-leading business here and we’re looking for the right people to be part of a unique New Zealand success story,” he said.
For more information and photo opportunities please contact:
Blue River Dairy Marketing Manager Gareth Lyness 021 779 419