New CEO of Moonlake Investments, Evan Rolley, sees big opportunities for North-West dairy farmers as part of VDL Farms’ investment in Tasmanian-branded products.
Speaking at the 10th annual Tasmanian Dairy Conference on Wednesday morning, Mr Rolley said his organisation had undertaken a long-term business opportunity based in supplying Tasmanian dairy products to a Chinese market.
“[Moonlake’s] investment decision with made with knowledge of a supply chain linking [VDL Farms’] grass pastures to a discrete group of Chinese consumers,” Mr Rolley said.
“This is a long-term strategy.
"In 2016 we formed VAN Milk, a sister company to VDL Farms, as the Australian vehicle to take milk products from Tasmania direct to China. This a game changer for Tasmania.”
Two factors making this arrangement possible were the upgrade in Hobart airport and a trade deal with Qantas, allowing VDL to fly milk products to China and avoid delays in Melbourne or Sydney, Mr Rolley said.
“This is an investment in agriculture based around an understanding of a consumer and precisely matched to their expectations,” he said.
“This is precisely the sort of opportunity that can add value in Tasmania.
"I’m excited about this step-by-step journey with a Tasmanian-branded product and shows the intention of our owner to focus on a specific consumer need.”
Speaking about plans for VDL Farms dairy properties in the North-West, Mr Rolley told conference attendees water and irrigation would boost opportunities in the region.
“Togari is the premium place for dairy in Australia and we are looking at options to realise [opportunities] with fresh VAN Milk first and then yoghurt and other milk products over the next period,” he said.
“This decision extends from brand. We are looking to partner with those who want to leverage off the Tasmanian brand and [as a sector] we need to become more aggressive about this.
“It really is the key to unlocking further value. We will look to partner with others over time.”
Mr Rolley was speaking about investing in agriculture on a panel at the conference, chaired by DairyTas board member Greg Bott.
Others on the panel were agricultural investment banker David Williams, Compass Agri managing director Nigel Pannett and Landmark Harcourts director John Hewitt.
The conference was held at Country Club Tasmania, Prospect Vale, and concluded with the Tasmanian Dairy Awards Dinner.