Double the butter, major expansion underway – Westland Milk Products

“Westland was really built on a butter making history”

Hamish Yates GM Sales and Marketing.

Driven by global demand for its consumer format Westgold butter, Westland Milk Products (Westland) has embarked on an exciting project that will enable it to double its packaging capability and global exports.
In 2017 Westland established a Retail and Food Service Division as a first step to move solely from commodity products, recognising the innate value in what the business was doing, not only at a farm level but, with a long history in traditional churning, also at a production level.
“Westland was really built on a butter making history,” says Hamish Yates GM Sales and Marketing. “So there’s a great story with a lot of romance, history and provenance in what we were doing and whilst we had butter patting capabilities since around 2004 it was still being sold around the world as a commodity product.”
The establishment of the Retail and Food Service Division brought in people with experience in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), retail and food service who were able to go to market in a way that was conducive to generating margins expected from a retail and food service business.
“If you look back to 2017 we did about 5000 tonnes of patted butter a year — the 227gm, 250gm or 500gm pats of butter. In 2020 we made 19,000 tonnes of patted butter. So the new division was really successful. But when you look at that magic number of 19,000 tonnes, we had exhausted our packaging capacity. We produce around 35,000 – 40,000 tonnes of butter each year but our small format packaging capability is limited to 19,000 tonnes. The difference is all sold as bulk commodity butter.”
Around January last year Westland commenced due diligence and work on a business case defining the need for an upgrade to demonstrate to its Chinese owners, Yili, that there was a strong demand to continue to grow the butter pats business.
While Westland currently exports retail and foodservice products to twenty countries Hamish says there is significant potential to tap into many other countries and continue on a strong export growth path.
The $40 million upgrade will enable Westland to take all 40,000 tonnes of butter and make it all into products for the highest value channels, which are retail and food service.
“It’s essentially refurbishing and rebuilding the butter plant from scratch. We will be replacing the existing single churn that was commissioned in 1978 with two state of the art churns that offer all sorts of other benefits from a quality and throughput perspective. We will also upgrade all our butter packaging machines with more modern technology that allow greater throughput and flexibility.”
That flexibility will enable the packaging to be nuanced with slight subtleties, rather than the current one size fits all approach.
Driven by global demand for its consumer format Westgold butter, Westland Milk Products (Westland) has embarked on an exciting project that will enable it to double its packaging capability and global exports.
In 2017 Westland established a Retail and Food Service Division as a first step to move solely from commodity products, recognising the innate value in what the business was doing, not only at a farm level but, with a long history in traditional churning, also at a production level.
“Westland was really built on a butter making history,” says Hamish Yates GM Sales and Marketing. “So there’s a great story with a lot of romance, history and provenance in what we were doing and whilst we had butter patting capabilities since around 2004 it was still being sold around the world as a commodity product.”
The establishment of the Retail and Food Service Division brought in people with experience in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), retail and food service who were able to go to market in a way that was conducive to generating margins expected from a retail and food service business.
“If you look back to 2017 we did about 5000 tonnes of patted butter a year — the 227gm, 250gm or 500gm pats of butter. In 2020 we made 19,000 tonnes of patted butter. So the new division was really successful. But when you look at that magic number of 19,000 tonnes, we had exhausted our packaging capacity. We produce around 35,000 – 40,000 tonnes of butter each year but our small format packaging capability is limited to 19,000 tonnes. The difference is all sold as bulk commodity butter.”
Around January last year Westland commenced due diligence and work on a business case defining the need for an upgrade to demonstrate to its Chinese owners, Yili, that there was a strong demand to continue to grow the butter pats business.
While Westland currently exports retail and foodservice products to twenty countries Hamish says there is significant potential to tap into many other countries and continue on a strong export growth path.
The $40 million upgrade will enable Westland to take all 40,000 tonnes of butter and make it all into products for the highest value channels, which are retail and food service.
“It’s essentially refurbishing and rebuilding the butter plant from scratch. We will be replacing the existing single churn that was commissioned in 1978 with two state of the art churns that offer all sorts of other benefits from a quality and throughput perspective. We will also upgrade all our butter packaging machines with more modern technology that allow greater throughput and flexibility.”
That flexibility will enable the packaging to be nuanced with slight subtleties, rather than the current one size fits all approach.

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