Fonterra is mining gold in the Waikato, extracting tiny particles of a natural protein called lactoferrin at the milk co-operative’s Hautapu site near Cambridge.
Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s chief operating officer global operations, says lactoferrin is known as “pink gold” because of its colour and high value.
“There’s a growing demand for lactoferrin in Asia. It generates huge returns in Japan where it sells in health foods, yoghurt and infant formula. The iron-binding protein has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, which helps the immune system.”