Tasmania attracts major dairy investment from China

Posted by Kate Carey on 25th September 2012

Chinese Government-owned companies continue to invest in Australian food and agricultural industries, with the latest announcement including negotiations to seek a major stake in Tasmania’s dairy industry.

China’s sovereign wealth fund is currently in talks with  one of Australia’s largest dairying companies, The Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDLC). The VDLC  has huge land holdings across north-west and north-east Tasmania.

Coincidentally, Little Lion Group, another dairying business with assets up to $90 Million has also announced they are seeking a buyer, inferring that Chinese investors might also consider taking an interest.

The news followed shortly after the President of China Investment Group Coorporation, Gao Xiqing, met with Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings to discuss agricultural investment opportunities in Tasmania.

Future opportunities for food and agricultural expansion in Tasmania are likely to grow following a major strategic policy by the Tasmanian Government under Ms Giddings’ predecessor former Premier David Bartlett.  Mr Bartlett displayed great vision in switching water useage priorities in the State, from hydro-electricity generation to irrigation of dry farming areas.

The initial $400 Million irrigation program, will arguably strengthen future investments in the dairy industry.

It is well known that in late 2011, investment banker David Williams, who is associated with Bega Cheese, spent $10 Million to aquire a major stake in water rights in central Tasmania.  Similarly, others have acquired valuable water rights in other parts of Tasmania.

The introduction of new irrigation schemes in Tasmania allows for a switch from dry land grazing of sheep to more intensive forms of agriculture, such as dairying and horticulture.

The Chinese investment in Tasmania follows earlier Australian investments as previously reported in Australian Food News. These include Chinese acquisition of Manassen, which has a diversity of well-known food brands including Sunbeam dried fruits, and other industries.

Chinese owned, Bright Foods Company has also been involved in acquiring businesses in Australia’s sugar, dairy, health supplements and agricultural industries.