Chinese dairy in KZN ruffles feathers

A Chinese company wanting to invest in dairy production in KwaZulu-Natal has come under fire from milk processors who fear the increase in demand could push up prices and lead to local milk shortages.

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Shanghai-based BEK-Pengxin Agritech plans to invest R2 billion in food production projects in South Africa. The first will be a 50 000ha dairy farm in the Ixopo area.

Bertus de Jongh, CEO of the Milk Producer’s Organisation (MPO), said on enquiry that details are sketchy but it appears as if the organisation aims to export substantial volumes of milk which will be sourced from local farmers.

SA currently produces 2,7 billion litres of milk per year.

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Should the project get underway a milk powder factory is expected to be up and running by September.

De Jongh said that exports of this nature may put pressure on the local supply situation. The MPO believes that the increased demand will do the industry good as it may create more sustainable prices.

“SA currently has the cheapest source of quality milk in the world so it’s understandable that the Chinese would be making this kind of investment here.