Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Former ZIWI Managers to Open New Zealand State-of-the-Art Pet Food Canning Facility

By Pet Age Staff//January 24, 2024//

Former ZIWI Managers to Open New Zealand State-of-the-Art Pet Food Canning Facility

By: Pet Age Staff//January 24, 2024//

Listen to this article

Press release:  New Zealand Riverlands Foods

Global pet food brands starved of opportunities to manufacture in New Zealand will soon have access to a new state-of-the-art canning facility.

Built by an experienced team of pet food entrepreneurs, the ultra-modern Canterbury factory will annually make 30 million cans of high-value pet food, mostly for international clients.

Set to open next month, the plant established by New Zealand Riverlands Foods is a first for New Zealand. It will produce exclusively for their clients only, removing a logjam that limited New Zealand as a go-to destination for third-party manufacturing.

While other plants exist, they’re either very small, running at full capacity making their own brands, or in long-term contracts for a small number of large clients, meaning smaller and innovative brands can’t make their pet food in New Zealand.

“Not producing our own brand gives us a real point of difference. All customers are treated equally. It also provides us with flexibility to meet the changing market demands such as different product textures and formulations,” said Michael Dance, general manager of Riverland Foods.

New Zealand is known for its high-class ingredients and strong country brand and reputation, leaving pet food companies frustrated they couldn’t make product here.

Dance and colleagues, all veterans of the pet food industry, spied the manufacturing gap in New Zealand, so in 2022 began developing plans for the Hornby facility.

“With global sales of cat and dog food at $US58 billion predicted to more than double by 2030, there is huge demand for access to modern manufacturing facilities which are both adaptable and innovative,” Dance added.

“Initial investment in the project exceeds $US20 million but further funds are committed for future staged development.”

Alongside Dance, the team driving Riverlands includes Head of Operations Tom Coughlan. Coughlan and Dance are both former managers of New Zealand pet food company ZIWI.

Coughlan, who ran a meat processing business before switching to pet nutrition, is looking forward to providing high-quality cat and dog food made from the best ingredients in New Zealand’s less populated and mainly rural South Island.

“We chose Christchurch because of its proximity to processing plants and quality raw materials,” said Coughlan.

Another Riverlands’ advantage is its ability to quickly adjust recipes as demand changes for cat food, with various cats preferring different textures such as mousse, pate or chunky-with-gravy styles.

All of these textures have a different ‘mouth feel’ and for cats that’s really critical,” Dance says. “Because cats can whimsically change whether they like a texture or not, a cat will stop eating one texture in preference to another, forcing the pet food company to stock a range of textures – or they lose a customer.

“Riverlands ability to make many different textures gives brand owners the opportunity to hold on to their customers within their brand,” Dance added.

Dance says Riverlands is already in discussion with brand owners in North America, Asia and Australia to manufacture their products. While ready to work for Kiwi-based brands, the New Zealand pet food market of approximately $500 million in 2023 is dwarfed by the $104 billion global industry, which mostly manufactures food for cats and dogs.

Driven by greater popularity of pet ownership, and demand for more nutritious food, researchers predict the global pet food industry will grow to sales of $163 billion by the end of the decade.

“We want to play an essential part in the health and longevity of pets and help put New Zealand firmly on the world pet food map,” Dance said.