China’s Silicon Valley of Dairy: Yili opens “world’s largest” infant formula production base
18 Jul 2022 --- Chinese dairy giant Yili has inaugurated its new global Smart Manufacturing Industrial Park launch ceremony in Hohhot, China. With the goal of building the “Silicon Valley” of milk-based products, Yili aims to establish a region that will serve as a global hub for the dairy and health industries.
“With a total investment of RMB 5 billion (US$741 million), the liquid milk production base can process 6,500 [metric] tons of fresh milk per day, which can meet a megacity’s daily demand,” Dr. Zhanyou Yun, assistant president of Yili Group, Beijing, China, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“The milk powder production site, with an investment of RMB 3 billion (US$445 million), is the world’s largest infant formula production base, featuring the highest level of digitization and advanced technologies. It has an annual production capacity of 60,000 [metric] tons, which can feed 1.28 million infants per year.”
Boosting regional and economic growth
The “Valley” is home to six national platforms, including the National Center of Technology Innovation for Dairy and the National Metrology and Testing Center for Dairy Products.
Exploring the development of dairy industrial clusters, the program is expected to boost regional economic growth and accelerate the growth of global health industries.
“The Valley stands out for its strategic vision aimed at stimulating holistic development across the entire industry chain, harnessing digital transformation to empower the construction of a smart city, and realizing the integration of industrial and urban functions through an eco-friendly approach,” Yun says.
As the “world’s largest” infant formula production base with the highest level of digitization, the production base leads the industry in introducing the Intelligent Building Management System, the Facility Management and Control System and applies a variety of cutting-edge interactive technologies.
Reaching the global health industry
Based on Yili’s industrial chain, the Yili Future Intelligence and Health Valley continues to attract upstream, downstream and supporting projects to form an industrial cluster that will in turn, boost the city’s socio-economic development, asserts Yun.
To date, they detail that nearly 30 companies serving different roles across the dairy industrial chain – including plantation, herding, packaging, logistics, marketing, new energy, headquarters and urban construction – have found their home in the Valley, while more than 260 additional companies have also agreed to cooperate.
“Combining grass plantation, dairy farm construction, smart manufacturing, technological innovations, cultural and touristic functions and healthcare, a system that integrates the whole industrial chain and product lifecycle is gradually taking shape,” says Yun.
The spokesperson adds that once all the planned functions have been realized, the fully functional Yili Future Intelligence and Health Valley will create direct and indirect employment opportunities for more than 350,000 people, of which 140,000 are newly created positions.
“Residents will be able to access various resources of the city on a multidimensional scale, including quality education, distinctive commercial and business opportunities, professional medical services and a healthy ecosystem, ensuring a high quality of living.”
Tapping into China’s dairy consumer trends
In the past, Chinese consumers drank milk for its nutritional value. However, as living standards steadily improve, milk products must now cater to their upgraded demands, which are becoming more personalized, segmented and diversified, highlights Yun.
“Customers are also expecting to see more added value out of the products, such as organic recipes and premium quality as well as how they are empowering them to pursue greener lifestyles.”
“Members of the younger generations are also seeking products that can combine health functions, good taste and attractive packaging. Moreover, they expect rapid customer services and responses aimed at fulfilling their quickly evolving needs,” Yun adds.
“Yili will continue to focus on meeting the needs of every customer through technological innovation and providing diversified products with more nutritious and healthy benefits.”
Globally, ripples of innovation across the lactosphere have been generated by new food technology advancements over the last year, which include a new superfood sourced from discarded bovine colostrum from the milk industry. FoodIngredientsFirst recently delved into the workings of the Dairy 2.0 revolution and spoke with the creators behind these futuristic iterations of conventional milk-based ingredients.
By Natalie Schwertheim
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