Malaysia’s fresh milk insufficiency a gateway for Rhone Ma

MALAYSIA’s fresh milk insufficiency makes dairy cattle farming a blue ocean market for Rhone Ma Holdings Bhd, as the group now aims to become the most complete solutions provider in the region for veterinary supplies and healthcare.

“Malaysia does not have enough fresh milk, and this is the time to go into upstream farming. “As it stands, Malaysia’s self-sufficiency of milk is about 59%, meaning we have another 40% of room to grow,” Rhone Ma managing director Dr Lim Ban Keong told FocusM.

This is one of two key reasons for the group to make the move to diversify into dairy cattle farming and milk production.

The other is that Rhone Ma wants to become a total solutions provider. As it stands, the group provides solutions and services for poultry and swine farms, as well as petcare providers, but Dr Lim noted that what the group lacked was a presence in ruminants.

“The initial view ten years ago was that it was not a strong industry with a small product range,” said Dr Lim.

One Lazuli Sdn Bhd is one of the three livestock companies in which Rhone Ma acquired stakes in February 2020 for a total of RM7.84 mil. The other two are Nor Lazuli Nutrition Sdn Bhd and Nor Livestock Farm Sdn Bhd.

One Lazuli CEO Dr Rosli Mai Lam told FocusM that the government has always been encouraging the ruminant industry, but the fact remains that many participants are small farmers.

“The industry only started taking off over the last ten years, with the government believing that farmers would be able to do better at ruminant farming, compared to poultry,” said Dr Rosli.

He further noted that having 50 heads of milking cattle is actually quite commercially viable, and can produce enough milk for a sustainable income.

Rhone Ma faced delays in proceeding with its venture when the movement control order to curb Covid-19 came into force in March.

“Unfortunately, this led to a mild delay of two months in our infrastructure preparation. We had already imported a herd of 95 cows from Australia, which arrived at the end of June,” shared Dr Lim.

Rhone Ma’s MD also noted that the initial target of producing milk by September has now been delayed to “November or December,” with a target of up to 70,000 litres of A2 protein milk to be produced a month by year-end.

According to Dr Lim, A2 protein milk is devoid of the A1 beta-casein protein which is naturally found in milk, which usually sees a combination of both the A1 and A2 proteins. When digested by the body, the A1 protein produces beta-casomorphin-7, which has been linked to stomach discomfort and symptoms similar to lactose intolerance.

Moving forward, Dr Lim also shared that Rhone Ma is looking at its own brand of A2 protein milk, which would involve downstream processing.

“Still, our focus is on the milk first. We are not excluding other dairy products as the opportunities exist, and it is a matter of time,” said Dr Lim.

On whether Rhone Ma will be looking into poultry or swine farming, Dr Lim replied with a firm no.

“We are not looking into the farming of poultry or swine. The first reason is that there will be a conflict of interest, as most of our clients for our solutions are local farms.

“Market-wise, poultry and swine farming are also mature industries, with high barriers of entry. However, in ruminants, we are the experts,” said Dr Lim.

At the close of trading today, Rhone Ma’s shares were at 61.5 sen, up half a sen, with 16,000 shares traded. – Aug 11, 2020

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