Chinese infant formula group Yashili has been given the go-ahead to construct a planned NZ$220m (US$170.7m) infant formula production facility in Pokeno, New Zealand.

The Waikato District Council announced today (30 August) that it has approved the proposal following a three day hearing. The hearing officially closed on Monday and a 15 day appeal period commenced on Tuesday.

Yashili’s plans, announced in January, received approval from the NZ Overseas Investment office in April.

The facility will be operated via its recently established subsidiary, Yashili New Zealand. It will have a capacity of 52,000 tonnes, the company said.

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 FoodGroup bought a majority stake in New Zealand milk processor Synlait for US$60m.