Yashili International is to spend CNY1.1bn (US$176.7m) to build a 52,000-tonne capacity dairy in New Zealand, via its recently established subsidiary in the country.

Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co has already signed a conditional purchase agreement for the land, although the building plan is still subject to government approval, the Chinese group said yesterday (10 January).

The move is another example of growing Chinese interest in New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Late last year, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group announced a deal to buy New Zealand’s Oceania Dairy Group, while, in 2010, China’s Bright Food Group bought a majority stake in New Zealand milk processor Synlait for US$60m. 

The firm said it expects the dairy to have a capacity of 52,000 tonnes of finished and part-finished goods, including milk power. It is scheduled to be operational by the second half of 2014.

Of the funds earmarked for the project, Yashili said CNY950m will be used to acquire land and construct the facility, while CNY150m will be kept aside for working capital requirements.