New Zealand dairy group Fonterra has confirmed it plans to ramp up its milking operations in China with the opening of around 27 farms by 2020.

A spokesperson for Fonterra told just-food today (10 April) the group has three farms operational in the country to date and a “double site farm” under development. Once fully operational, the hub will produce around 150m litres of milk a year.

However, the spokesperson added Fonterra is already looking at where it can invest next in China.

“The target is to reach one billion litres of high quality milk by 2020. Each farm produces around 30m litres of milk a year. So one billion litres is roughly 30 farms, however, this is indicative only.”

Fonterra has been operating from a Shanghai base for around 15 years and is understood to employ around 600 staff in mainland China.

In May last year, Fonterra unveiled a new structure designed to grow its business in emerging markets. This included the establishment of operational management for the China and India, Latin America and south-east Asia, the Middle East and north Africa regions.

In an interview last month with Fonterra CFO Jonathan Mason, the finance chief told just-food the group was expanding sales of its nutritional milk products brand Anmum in China. It also plans to expand into infant formula in China, he said.