Moon Lake invests in the future of Tasmania’s dairy industry

In 2016, China’s Moon Lake Investments (Moon Lake) received Government approval to acquire Australia’s largest dairy property, Tasmanian-based Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL) for $280 million.

Moon Lake has a long term plan to invest further in projects on VDL farms – a continued boost to Tasmania’s economy and that of the local region. New jobs will be created through investment on the farms to produce new products and improve milk quality, and in development of the supply chain to get the milk fresh from the farms to consumers in China.

North-west Tasmania is ideally suited to dairy farming, with a temperate climate, abundant and consistent rainfall, moderate temperatures and - according to scientists at the Australian Government’s Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station - it has the world’s cleanest air.

The pure, fresh milk that comes to you from Van Dairy has its origins in the lush green pastures of Woolnorth Station, home of the historic Van Diemen’s Land Farms (VDL Farms).

Located in the remote coastal region of northwest Tasmania, The Van Diemen’s Land Company was established in 1825, and is one of Australia’s oldest continually operating pastoral companies. Today it incorporates a total of 25 dairy farms and 19,000 milking cows, making it Australia’s biggest milk producer.

Owned and operated by Moon Lake Investments, VDL Farms is proud to produce among Australia’s purest, cleanest and freshest milk for your family’s health and enjoyment.

VAN Milk is a sister company of Moon Lake, established to export dairy the milk produced on the farms direct to China. Initially the company plans to export fresh milk under the “VAN Milk” brand but has longer-term plans to expand its product range.

Moon Lake is partnering with Qantas Freight, Australia’s premier airline, as the exclusive air freight partner to carry VAN Dairy’s fresh Tasmanian milk export to Ningbo in China – a move which will see the biggest regular air freight service into Tasmania in its history and establish a trade bridge, not just for VAN Milk but potentially for Tasmanian producers of other perishable goods.

The company is well advanced in securing government regulatory and airport approvals in both Australia and China to freight around 50,000 litres of fresh VAN milk each week to China. A quality control system is in place to guarantee “chain of custody” and quality of the milk from the cow to the carton to the consumer across 10,000 kilometres.

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman said it is a really exciting opportunity for the State to use its logistics and ability to take Tasmania to the world. ‘We couldn’t imagine this just a few years ago.’

The milk will be processed by Lion at Lenah Valley in Hobart, utilising Lion’s export licence and capabilities.

The export plans for ‘VAN milk’ to reach China has also been instrumental to Hobart Airport runway extension, currently under construction to enable flights to go direct from Hobart once it is complete.

Managing Director of Moon Lake Investments, Sean Shwe, said there was a growing demand for fresh milk in China and establishing this trade bridge opened the door for access for other Tasmanian producers of fresh perishables, such as seafood, fruit and vegetables. ‘Moon Lake plans to expand dairy operations, upgrade quality controls and create more jobs in Tasmania… It will be a game changer for the state over a long run, and we are proud to be leading the charge.’

To support the premium VAN Milk export plan the company has initiated two new investment projects on the farms that will be completed this year.

“We have initiated conversion of four of our farms into organic farms, we have started this organic journey and from March this year, we have started extracting milk using organic methods,” Mr Shwe said.

The company has already identified three of its farms aiming to produce highest quality milk with lowest somatic cell counts in the country.

A low Somatic Cell Count (SCC) is an internationally recognised indicator of milk quality. Mr Shwe added: "We are very pleased with the progress of this project and are optimistic that this project will be completed by mid-2017.