Fonterra has completed a project to double its capacity to produce the high-value ingredient lactoferrin, which is otherwise known as Pink Gold.
It takes 10,000 litres of milk and sophisticated technology to make just one kilogram of lactoferrin, a company spokesperson said.
It is in high demand, particularly in Asia, for a wide range of nutritional products from infant formula through to health foods and yoghurts.
The new $11 million upgrade of the lactoferrin plant at the co-operative's Hautapu site is now running at full volume, Fonterra's managing director of global operations Robert Spurway said.
The fact that Fonterra measures growth for this product in kilograms rather than tonnes gives an idea of its potency and value, he said.
Extracting this specialised protein from milk is something very few dairy manufacturers can do, due to the investment needed in both capital and research and development, he said.