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Arla: 1m tons of acid whey waste could be cut

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By Rachel Arthur+

Last updated on 17-Jun-2014 at 14:21 GMT

Arla: 1m tons of acid whey waste could be cut

Greek yogurt manufacturers in the US could cut acid whey output by a collective 1m tons a year, by using this by-product to make additional dairy foods, claims Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI). 

This could reassure environmentally-conscious consumers, who are increasingly concerned of the effects of acid whey.

For every 100kg of milk used to make Greek yogurt, 33kg ends up as the product and the remaining two thirds is acid whey.

If it reaches waterways, whey decomposition can deplete oxygen levels and kill fish. Greek yoghurt producers are faced with the burden of disposing of acid whey, both in terms of cost and the negative PR it attracts. 

Drinks, cheese, desserts

AFI has developed a process which uses its Nutrilac dairy protein to turn acid whey into other products. Torben Jensen, application manager, AFI told it has expanded the range of products it can make following a soft launch last year.

We have extended to more drinks, long life drinks, different cheeses such as cream cheese and processed cheese, and different types of desserts,” he said. 

The impact of acid whey in the US has been highlighted with the surge in popularity of Greek yogurt. Sales were worth an estimated $3.29bn in 2013 –half of the total American yogurt market, according to Nielsen. This equates to a volume of about 500,000 tons of Greek yogurt a year, which Arla calculates translates to 1m tons of acid whey.

We know for sure that consumers are getting more and more concerned about the influence on the environment: how it is produced, what is the effect on the environment,” Jensen said.

He believes the environmental credentials could be the biggest selling point of the Nutrilac process.

It’s a good concept, and I think many Greek yoghurt producers are being pushed and squeezed from the final consumer about the environmental impact. That could be one of the biggest advantages, being able to say ‘we are now working in a more environmentally friendly way.’”

AFI will present its acid whey system at IFT Food Expo in New Orleans, June 22-24.

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