Yili's subsidiary, Westland Milk Products, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of its $42.58 million lactoferrin plant at Hokitika, New Zealand.

The ceremony was attended by New Zealand's Trade, Export and Agriculture Minister and MP for West-Coast Tasman, Damien O'Connor; Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ray Smith; Chinese Ambassador to New ZealandWang Xiao Long; and Chinese Consul-General in Christchurch, He Ying.

Westland CEO Richard Wyeth welcomed guests and provided them with an overview of the background of the lactoferrin project. Yili Westland's Resident Director, Zhiqiang Li, spoke about the global market advantage that both Westland and Yili would gain from Yili's investment in the new lactoferrin plant.

The investment will enable Yili to rank among the top three leading global companies in the lactoferrin category, with a market share of approximately 10 percent, the company stated.

"Today's launch of the lactoferrin program will secure Westland as one of the world's leading producers of highly prized bioactive ingredients," Li told invited guests. "The investment also signals Yili's commitment to take the global lead in the high-value bioactive dairy ingredients sector."

"We were one of the first to market with this highly specialized protein ingredient, and over the past 20 years have established a reputation as a manufacturer of a product of exceptional quality," Wyeth said. "Our bioactive ingredients innovation pipeline is well advanced, and we're excited to be a step closer to bringing these concepts to commercialization."

Lactoferrin, a multifunctional natural protein, offers immune benefits as well as antibacterial and antioxidant functions and is now widely used in food, pharmaceutical products and in other industries. As a consumer-oriented enterprise, Yili has anticipated consumers' needs for products such as lactoferrin and is determined to bring more nutritious and healthy products to global markets. The company has invested considerable resources in R&D to tackle lactoferrin extraction challenges.

According to analysts, lactoferrin is a crucial and scarce resource for the dairy industry. This project is therefore a significant step in Yili's efforts at overcoming core technological barriers, strengthening its global influence, and developing its long-term strategic layout.

The groundbreaking event was also attended by other notable guests, including: Minister-Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, Chen Zhiyang; First Secretary at the Commercial Section of the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, Pan Jiansheng; Consul at the Chinese Consulate-General in ChristchurchXu Li; Vice-Consul at the Chinese Consulate-General in Christchurch, Li Muqing; Director of Industry and Stakeholder Management at MPI, Steve Cunningham; Mayor of Buller, Jamie Cleine; Development West Coast CEO, Heath Milne; and Westland Deputy MayorAshley Cassin.