New Zealand beverage manufacturer has announced it will open what is being described as New Zealand’s first dedicated state-of-the-art plant-based milk manufacturing facility. Free Flow Manufacturing says opening the facility will “satisfy New Zealand’s rapidly growing thirst for alternative milks”.

Free Flow Manufacturing co-founder Scott Day says the demand for plant-based milk alternatives has skyrocketed in recent years, outpacing traditional dairy milk, with no sign of slowing.

“Grocery spending on plant-based milks in New Zealand increased by 44% from 2019 to the end of 2022, with sales jumping from $61 million to $88 million,” says Day.

“Despite this, New Zealand has had to rely on mainly imported products or those manufactured overseas to meet this demand. The launch of our new plant-based milk facility in East Auckland is an important milestone for the sector, enabling it to reduce its carbon footprint, improve innovation and produce premium products locally for health-conscious consumers worldwide.”

The new facility represents a significant capex investment for the company and will be capable of producing 50 million litres of the highest quality plant-based milks annually. This will include a partnership to produce plant milk for foundation client — New Zealand’s original oat milk brand — Otis, enabling the Otago company to return manufacturing of its popular oat milks from Sweden to New Zealand.

When the facility opens its doors later this year, Otis oat milk will be the first product to roll off the production line. This marks the culmination of a four-year search by its founders for a local manufacturing partner capable of producing its recipe to world-class standards.

Otis co-founders Tim Ryan and Chris Wilkie says they have been on a mission to return to making their oat milk in New Zealand ever since they launched in Lincoln, Canterbury, as the very first New Zealand oat milk brand in 2018.

“As we scaled up our production, we weren’t prepared to compromise on quality, and because of this, we’ve had to ship our New Zealand oats to Sweden for manufacture due to the lack of a local partner that has the technology required to produce premium oat milks to the gold-standard we demand.

“The journey has been long and hard and has involved seven feasibility studies over eight different sites across Aotearoa, costing a lot of money and years of graft for a small start-up. We’re thrilled to have finally cracked this with Free Flow and truly believe that New Zealand will be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to producing both dairy and non-dairy milks.”

The new Free Flow Manufacturing plant will be one of the world’s most technically advanced plant-based milk manufacturing facilities, says the company.