Aim is pots of success for yoghurt firm

A new factory on the outskirts of Norwich is hoping to launch into the production of up to �2m a year in gourmet yoghurt, having been set up from New Zealand with support and funding from East of England Inward Investment (EEII).

The luxury range will be named Little Melton Gourmet Yoghurt, after the location of the factory in nearby Beckhithe, but will be the work of a new UK company named Tasman Dairy Producers.

Produce made to the same recipe is already for sale in New Zealand, Australia and the USA, where it has been gaining market share.

The UK company has been founded by Mark Collins, who has moved from New Zealand where he worked for Piako Gourmet Yoghurt, who manufactured the yoghurt there.

Tasman Dairy Producers will pay a royalty fee to the Australian inventors of the product for every kilogramme they produce, a deal which has been agreed for 99 years.

The new facility is the result of �500,000 investment from EEII and will result in around 10 jobs in the first nine months, and then a further eight.

The firm hopes to produce between eight and 10 tonnes per week by the end of December, which will put them on target to bring in between �1.8m and �2m in annual turnover within 18 months.

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The firm already has deals in place with Harrods, in London, as well as the Green Grocers in Norwich.

'We're in talks with three of the bigger supermarkets. We're serious about taking a decent wedge,' said Mr Collins. 'We're just going to do what we do and if we do it right we can easily hit our targets.

'We believe the UK market has enormous potential for our product so we made the decision to set up a facility here, and the site offered everything that we needed, with good transport links and effective support networks.'

The EEII, which is funded by the East of England Development Agency (Eeda), also helped to search for potential sites, organise viewings and assist in securing the lease.

'East of England did a fantastic job providing us with good market research,' said Mr Collins. 'We were looking at London as well, obviously it's a lot more expensive. It's a good little spot for us from a brand perspective as well, we're in the green pastures. It's got a lot of positives.'