Innovation in Sheep Milk


One of New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes, AgResearch Ltd delivers new knowledge and technologies to support New Zealand pastoral agriculture and agri-food sectors with research spanning from forage science; farm systems & the environment, animal science, and food & bio-based products.

It is the last category of research, food products brought AgResearch scientists to The FoodBowl to conduct innovative trial work on sheep milk.

With the impressive nutritional profile of sheep milk and NZ research into its digestive benefits, the national dairy sheep milk herd continues to increase with 16 different breeds of milking sheep in New Zealand. The increase in herd numbers gives rise to the opportunity to innovate via numerous means.

One such means is the commercialisation of sheep milk for export.

Commercialisation of any export product has its challenges. The reality of the geographical challenges New Zealand faces mean that an export focused product requires a shelf life that is commercially feasible.

Making this technically possible is where a collaboration between AgResearch and The FoodBowl was forged.

The FoodBowl, which is part of the NZ Food Innovation Network was established to support the growth of innovative added value products which are export focused.

The FoodBowl offers the NZ food & beverage industry access to infrastructure and expertise for the development of new food products. The FoodBowl also offers training to the industry. It was at one of the training events that Ag Research became aware of the capability at The FoodBowl, capability which includes the appropriate equipment, relevant expertise and the food safety certification required to produce food products.

Paul from AgResearch comments: ‘I had done an Approved Persons Course on UHT processing at The FoodBowl in 2017 so I was fully aware of the capability there. We needed to make a food grade product that would be consumed by the public so firstly we needed a plant that could provide this, but also the experience and expertise of staff to guide us in making a safe product.’

The FoodBowl prides itself in offering our clients a quality service which is professional and client focused with customer service being the foundation that we grow our client base upon.

 ‘FoodBowl were very accommodating and easy to work with The FoodBowl staff were very helpful from the initial contact right through to the processing stage. They provided help and examples of completing a Risk Management Plan (RMP) for our product, and on the day of processing they kept the communication going to inform us of progress. When I asked about another piece of equipment they arranged for someone to show me this and talk about it.’ – Paul Harris, Senior Scientist AgResearch Ltd