Dairy Industry

Dairy Industry


Dairy farming and processing is one of New Zealand’s most important economic activities and contributes about 25% of our export earnings.

As well as farm managers, sharemilkers and vets, many people with technology, engineering and science skills are involved in the industry – all the way from researching how to keep soils in good condition to creating new flavours of ice cream:

  • Soil scientists research how soils behave under farm conditions, including the impact of irrigation, fertiliser application and grazing, in order to make milk production more sustainable.
  • Agricultural scientists study both cows and the grass they eat to improve their productivity, prevent pests and diseases and find more sustainable ways to farm.
  • Process engineers and technologists design, develop and maintain efficient processes for turning raw milk into a wide range of different products.
  • Environmental engineers and scientists research and design systems to minimise the impact of intensive dairy farming.
  • Food technologists develop interesting new ways to use dairy products, including flavoured yoghurt, cheese, ice cream and flavoured milk drinks.

The main employers in the dairy industry include:

  • Fonterra – spans the entire dairy supply chain from cow to customer, employing many process engineers and food technologists
  • Food technologists also work for smaller food companies, developing new ice cream, cheese and yoghurt products
  • Agricultural scientists are typically employed by Crown Research Institutes (CRIs), particularly AgResearch, but may also work for Fonterra, companies producing agriculture-related products such as seeds and fertilisers, or regional councils
  • Environmental scientists may be employed by local authorities (regional and district councils) to do policy and evaluation work, by consultancy firms to do environmental assessments for resource consent applications and by companies such as fertiliser manufacturers.

Key tertiary qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Engineering, specialising in Chemical or Process Engineering
  • Bachelor of Food Technology
  • Bachelor of Science or Technology in Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Genetics or Molecular Biology
  • Bachelor of Science or Applied Science in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Microbiology, Agricultural Science
  • Master of Dairy Science & Technology

Required and recommended school subjects:

  • Calculus (required for Engineering, Food Technology pathways)
  • Physics (required for Engineering, Food Technology pathways)
  • Chemistry (required for Process Engineering, Food Technology pathways)
  • Statistics & Modelling
  • Biology
  • English
  • Technology subjects

Job roles in this industry

  • Agricultural or Horticultural Consultant

    Agricultural or Horticultural Consultant

    Agricultural or Horticultural Scientist

    Agricultural or Horticultural Scientist

    Chemical & Process Engineer

    Chemical & Process Engineer

    Engineering Technician

    Engineering Technician
  • Environmental Engineer

    Environmental Engineer

    Environmental Scientist

    Environmental Scientist

    Farm Vet

    Farm Vet

    Food Safety (QA) Officer

    Food Safety (QA) Officer
  • Food Scientist

    Food Scientist

    Food Technologist

    Food Technologist

    Mechanical Engineer

    Mechanical Engineer

    Microbiologist

    Microbiologist
  • Operation or Production Engineer

    Operation or Production Engineer

    Robotics or Automation Engineer

    Robotics or Automation Engineer

Companies and organisations in this industry

  • Dairy Goat Cooperative
    Dairy Goat Cooperative
    Constantia Foods
    Constantia Foods
    GEA Group
    GEA Group
    Haden & Custance Ltd
    Haden & Custance Ltd
  • Fonterra
    Fonterra
    Westland Milk Products
    Westland Milk Products

Futureintech is an initiative of Engineering New Zealand, funded by Callaghan Innovation

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