New Zealand dairy Synlait Milk has announced plans to invest US$15m in upgrading its lactoferrin production.

The company said today (8 May) the investment would allow it to become one of two companies in the world capable of producing lactoferrin as a spray dried powder.

With the new capability, Synlait Milk expects production to reach 18 metric tonnes within four years of commissioning in late 2013 to early 2014, the group added.

The move follows some significant contract wins with YinQiao Xi'An, the largest dairy manufacturer in north western China, Synlait Milk's cornerstone shareholder Bright Dairy and A2 Corporation. Demand is being driven by the rapid expansion of hte Chinese infant formula market, the group added. 

"There is a global shortage of lactoferrin driven largely by the demand for infant formula," CEO John Penno said. "As a trusted supplier Synlait Milk is keen to meet its customers' requirements for an easily soluble lactoferrin manufactured to the same exacting quality assurance standards that Synlait Milk takes pride in attaining for all its products."