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Media Article: High-tech canning line opened


Date: 8 August 2014

Source: FWplus: High-tech canning line opened

Author: Hugh Stringleman



GMP Dairy principal Karl Ye, left, and plant manager Stelios Simpson show off the components
of new product-safety systems at the opening of a new infant formula canning line in Auckland.

Added-value infant formula exports from New Zealand received a boost last week with the opening of a second canning line at GMP Dairy’s plant in East Tamaki, Auckland.


Trade Minister Tim Groser opened the plant expansion for GMP principal Karl Ye, who also revealed new tracing technologies for individual cans of infant formula that would provide added reassurance for Chinese parents.


GMP Dairy, a division of GMP Pharmaceuticals, was formed in 2009 and is a contract packer for a majority of the NZ infant formula brands targeting the huge Chinese market.


It was among the first NZ plants to receive Chinese accreditation from May 1 and received favourable comments about its pharmaceutical parentage and premises, which fits the Chinese desire to regulate the sale of infant formula.


GMP said the East Tamaki plant was the first and largest pharmaceutical grade dairy manufacturing facility in NZ.


Ye said the second canning line would raise plant capacity to 40 million cans a year, containing 40,000 tonnes of milk powder and ingredients.


NZ’s exports of retail-ready infant formula cans are worth more than $200m a year and GMP said it expected to pack about 40% of that trade.


The plant takes base infant formula powder from Fonterra, Westland, and Synlait and adds specialised ingredients to the brand owners’ specifications before canning and labelling.


Assistant operations manager Stelios Simpson said two new technologies had been added to the packing line for tracing security and consumer reassurance.


The first was a “black box” to capture images from CCTV cameras, sensors, batch readers and xrays at stages of production to store information and data in a safe location resistant to fire and earthquakes.


The second was smartphone integrated storage of can images and data through a unique QR code accessible from the retail locations by consumers before purchase.


For example, xrays taken of the sealed can would assure consumers there was no metal contamination.


GMP Dairy said while that might seem overkill to NZ consumers, Chinese parents would be very interested.


The QR code also provided phones with ingredient lists and guarded against product faking.


The new production line also used robotic systems to reduce labour and prevent contamination through minimising human error and interference.


GMP Dairy said it was the only company out of the 13 NZ infant formula plants to be registered by the Chinese without needing to undertake corrective action.


The production opening ceremony was also used by the NZ Federation of Multicultural Councils to launch its new advisory board for businesses, headed by Wenceslaus Anthony, to help small-to-medium businesses access capital and markets.


Born and educated in China, Ye emigrated to Australia and in 1994 founded GMP Pharmaceuticals, which has three plants in Australia and NZ and employs 250 people.