Oat milk gets the OK from RSPF

Published: 14 July, 2022 · Updated: 3 August, 2022

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  • Southland/Murihiku

Southland's burgeoning oat milk industry is set to make a splash with the Government investing in a new oat milk processing plant near Invercargill.

Glass jug of oat milk being poured into a white and green mug filled with tea.

A jug of oat milk is poured into a hot drink.

The Regional Strategic Partnership Fund is investing $6 million in seed funding in New Zealand Functional Foods, the company established by Southland’s economic development agency Great South for pursuing the commercial potential of products like oat milk.

Oat milk is a plant-based dairy alternative. Low in water use, land use and emissions, whilst being a crowd-pleaser at the breakfast table, oat milk has seen its popularity skyrocket in recent years.

Southland has a proud history of growing oats for animal feed and human consumption, and as a catch crop. However, the value of oats doesn’t currently compete with the value of dairy.  The premium price and export potential of locally produced oat milk would help make growing oats for oat milk a financially viable alternative or complementary crop to dairy. However, to command a premium price, remain low in emissions and provide the most value to farmers, oat milk needs to not just be grown but processed locally. 

This seed funding from the RSPF will support New Zealand Functional Foods to build a specialised, large-scale processing plant at Makarewa, with capacity for producing up to 80m litres of plant-based milk a year. The new facility will create new jobs locally as well as support this burgeoning industry to make a splash on the international as well as domestic market.

Kānoa – RDU manages the RSPF, and the organisation’s head Robert Pigou says this is a strategically targeted investment from a fund established to help support sectors or initiative that New Zealand’s regions consider a priority.   

“Amongst the aims of the RSPF is helping regional economies to be more resilient and sustainable. This investment is designed to support the diversification of Southland’s primary sector with oats as an economically viable as well as sustainable farming option.

“We see this as important step in our mission at Kānoa – RDU to continue to work with our regional partners to build more productive, resilient, inclusive, sustainable and Māori-enabling economies,” Robert Pigou said.

More information on the RSPF can be found here: The Regional Strategic Partnership Fund | Grow Regions