Jan 14, 2015

Kiwi develops low-cost milk product in Myanmar

Though Myanmar has among the highest malnourishment statistics in the world, an Auckland man has found a cheap solution there in the form of an old Kiwi favourite – milk.

ANZ Nutrition Myanmar director Neil Macintyre has set himself a goal of eradicating malnourishment in Myanmar with a single-serve milk product containing probiotics and a dewormer, and costing just 20 cents a unit.

"This drink will build strong children. We can literally eliminate malnutrition," he said.

"With world dairy prices now falling it is much more realistic for us to produce single-serve high protein, high mineral milk drinks that can be priced at such a point that we can take it to the masses."

The bustling cities of Myanmar make up only a small percentage of its population. Macintyre said it was in rural areas that the real malnutrition problems were found.

"The opportunity for nutrition in this country is incredible. It's a great opportunity to supply dairy nutrition to a market that has an incredibly strong need for it.

"Child malnutrition stems from many factors, not least a lack of protein and minerals.

"They will often look as if they have enough food because their little stomachs will look fat, but that's actually from malnutrition.

"They have access to carbohydrates through rice and access to fat through lots of different sorts of oils from China, but what they severely lack is access to protein and minerals."

Originally from Dunedin, Macintyre spent the last eight years living in Asia and moved to Yangon, Myanmar, in October 2013.

With an economics degree and a background in the dairy industry, Macintyre is no stranger to the world of business and in New Zealand he was one of a small team who created Sun Latte, an ultra-filtered pasteurised low-fat milk.

Macintyre is eager to get project under way, but it requires a $20 million investment for processing and packaging technology.

To save freight space, the milk will be shipped from New Zealand, Australia and the United States in powder form.

"Dairy has a unique role to play here in Myanmar and the key for us was to make it cost effective enough to reach the masses, not just expats and the very small elite wealthy Myanmar."

Rhiannon McConnell travelled to Myanmar with support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation.


New Zealand's reputation for dairy expertise is having an impact on Myanmar in more ways than one – a NZ $6 million project started last March is helping to establish a competitive dairy industry for the country.

When Prime Minister John Key visited Myanmar in November 2012, he announced the five-year Myanmar New Zealand Dairy Excellence Project, which is now in its first stage.

Funded by the New Zealand Aid programme, it was set up to improve farmers' livelihoods and produce safer food for consumers.

The first six months of the project confirmed which farms should be involved in the project, evaluated milk quality and identified training opportunities.

It is expected to benefit up to 1500 dairy farmers in its first phase, and up to 5000 dairy farmers, dairy processors, retailers and local communities in its second phase.

Source: stuff.con.nz