New Zealand Riverland Foods has opened a $32 million (NZ$35 million) premium pet food processing facility in Christchurch.

The facility is specialised in co-manufacturing wet diets and has the capacity to produce 30 million cans per year.

Michael Dance, General Manager of Riverland, said the company is focused on selling to Asia and other international markets.

“We’re open for business to export to Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, North America and Singapore.

“Today is a double celebration, as we are opening our factory and we’re signing our first two contracts to make pet food for overseas brands.”

Those two inaugural customers are United Laboratories International Holdings Ltd from China and Talentail from Australia.

“We’re thrilled to be able to start a partnership with two well respected companies and we look forward to a continued relationship with them and agreeing terms with further clients in a few weeks,” said Dance.

New Zealand’s Minister for Trade and Agriculture Todd McClay said at the opening that pet food was an emerging high-growth market for New Zealand with data showing that New Zealand pet food exports had doubled in less than a decade, increasing from $68 million (NZ$75 million) a year in 2014 to $294 million (NZ$320 million) in 2023.

“This state-of-the-art facility – an important new addition to the Christchurch business landscape – will no doubt have a significant economic impact going forward as a global player in our growing pet food industry, helping to bring New Zealand’s high-quality, sustainable, and nutritious pet products to the world.”

Dance said that the facility’s location in Christchurch is a key advantage due to its proximity to sea and rail transport links as well as suppliers of quality raw materials used as ingredients in pet food.

“Canterbury is close to a host of suppliers of raw produce such as red meat, fish, shellfish, and fresh fruit. And its meat products are sourced from animals reared on pasture-based systems and have good provenance, which our customers see as highly desirable.”

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