What to do with 1 million tons of acid whey

Greek yogurt manufacturers can cut yearly acid whey output by a collective 1 million tons by converting it into value-added dairy products using Arla's processing solution.

Greek yogurt manufacturers in the U.S. could cut their acid whey output by a collective 1 million tons a year simply by converting it into value-added dairy products, according to Arla Foods Ingredients of Basking Ridge, N.J.

Arla Foods Ingredients has developed a processing solution—based on a Nutrilac® protein derived from milk—that enables producers of Greek yogurt to use their acid whey to make products such as fermented beverages, whey drinks, desserts and spreadable cheese. The process enables Greek yogurt manufacturers both to reduce waste and generate income—cutting costs and boosting profits at a stroke.

For every 100kg of milk used to make Greek yogurt, only 33 kg ends up used in the final product. The remaining two-thirds is acid whey, a by-product that producers often dispose of in their waste stream—a solution that has caused widespread controversy on environmental grounds.

The impact of acid whey in the U.S. has been thrust into the spotlight as a result of the surge in popularity of Greek yogurt, with sales worth an estimated $3.29 billion in 2013—or half of the total American yogurt market. This equates to a volume of about 500,000 tons of Greek yogurt a year—which in turn translates to 1 million tons of acid whey.

Now Arla Foods Ingredients has developed a unique and simple process using a Nutrilac dairy protein to turn acid whey into a range of products that can be sold at a high margin on consumer markets. The result is fresh tasting and nutritious dairy products that are a good source of calcium, protein and essential amino acids.

Experts from Arla Foods Ingredients will be on hand to discuss its acid whey innovation at this year’s IFT Food Expo, which takes place in New Orleans from June 22 to 24, 2014. Arla Foods Ingredients will exhibit on Booth 611.

Torben Jensen, application manager at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “With Greek yogurt sales booming in the US, acid whey has become a burden to manufacturers, both in terms of the cost of disposing of it, and the negative PR it attracts. Now, with our Nutrilac solution, it’s possible to turn the problem on its head by eliminating the acid whey waste stream and even making money from it. Until now, acid whey has been accepted as a hassle that Greek yogurt producers have just had to put up with. But now it’s a potential revenue stream and an opportunity to enhance sustainability credentials.”

In September 2013, Arla Foods Ingredients’ acid whey concept was named Best Beverage Ingredient at the Beverage Innovation Awards. The process is also suitable for use in other applications where acid whey is a by-product, including quark production.

 

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