Waikato Innovation Park pilot spray dryer goes ahead

Wednesday 2 March 2011, 6:14AM
By Innovation Waikato Limited


The Innovation Waikato Ltd Board of Directors has approved the construction of an $11 million product development spray dryer facility to be built on the campus of the Waikato Innovation Park.

The spray dryer will be the Waikato component of the Government sponsored New Zealand Food Innovation Network.

The Innovation Waikato expects to break ground in April, with construction taking around 13 months.
The pilot spray dryer will allow companies to research and develop new spray dried food products – something that is difficult to do in large, commercial factories. Capacity of the multi-purpose spray dryer will be one-half tonne/hour. As a comparison, the capacity of spray dryers at Fonterra’s Te Rapa dairy factory is 25 tonnes/hour.

Innovation Waikato CEO, Derek Fairweather, says the spray dryer “will initially be set up to allow companies to research, develop and manufacture new whole milk powders. However, the long-term strategy is to expand its capability to manufacture infant formula, fruit and vegetable juice powders.”

Finance for the dryer will come from Innovation Waikato Ltd debt and a Government grant of $3.95 million.
Hamilton Mayor, Julie Hardaker, says this spray dryer facility will be a great economic asset for the city.

“Hamilton, as the heart of the Waikato region, contributes significantly to New Zealand’s economy through our dairy, food and agricultural exports. This pilot spray dryer facility is a significant opportunity to attract investment from companies outside our region, and even overseas, to the city,” says Mayor Hardaker.

“Initially the spray dryer facility will focus on helping companies develop new dairy products. The dairy industry is the Waikato’s most important export sector, contributing around 27% of the region’s GDP. We believe this dryer facility is a key mechanism for moving the dairy industry from a focus on commodities to value-added production,” explains Derek Fairweather.
Once built, the pilot spray dryer facility will be the only independent development dryer available in New Zealand. The Innovation Park has received strong enquiries from companies outside of the region and overseas, interested in using the pilot plant for research and development purposes.


Waikato Innovation Park Spray Dryer – At A Glance:

  • Only independent development dryer in NZ
  • $11 million project
  • Capacity of one-half tonne/hour
  • If approved by shareholders, construction to start in April
  • 13 months to construct
  • Initial focus on manufacturing whole milk powders
  • Long-term, the dryer will manufacture infant formula and fruit and vegetable powders
  • The dryer is the Waikato component of the NZ Food Innovation Network
  • Other NZ Food Innovation Network centres: Manukau, Palmerston North and Christchurch