The first tanker of milk to supply the new processing plant at Glenavy is scheduled to arrive early next week.
Chinese-owned Oceania Dairy are all but ready to go, just awaiting final compliance documentation from the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Glenavy farmers, Aad and Wilma van Leeuwen, will be among the first to supply the factory, sending 30,000 litres next week, which will increase to a peak supply in early November of 200,000 litres per day.
Mr van Leeuwen said he and a small group of farmers were instrumental in the formation of Oceania Dairy after withdrawing from New Zealand Dairies Limited.
He said they had contracted their milk to Synlait for the last three years with the understanding that when Oceania commenced processing, supply would switch to them.
Forty-six entities, all within a 50 km radius of the Glenavy factory, have signed contracts with Oceania to supply 170 million litres of milk in the 2014/15 season.
Dry commisssioning of the new $214 million plant got under way in early June and a range of performance tests have been carried out since then.
South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Ivon Hurst said the factory would be a great boost for the Waitaki and Waimate districts and would encourage more dairy conversions.
“Its a great labour-creating asset.
“A lot of work has been contracted to local firms rather than it going to outside contractors, which is commendable.
“It will be interesting to see if they become true competitors of Fonterra.”
Ross Rathden, owner of Otaio Dairy, will be supplying the factory with about 500,000 milk solids this season from a 320ha milking platform near St Andrews.
Mr Rathden said he had been milking early calvers at another property and was now ready to supply Oceania from a new conversion.
He said he was happy to be supplying the factory and hoped it worked out.
“It’s a new development and we don’t have to buy shares.
“Also, I’ve worked with some of the management in the new factory and I know they’re good to work with.”
Oceania Dairy management were not available for comment before the opening next week.
By LINDA MCCARTHY
PHOTO: SUPPLIED – The Oceania Dairy factory is ready to receive milk next week.