Significantly lower production costs and improved product consistency are the twin benefits claimed for a reverse osmosis filtration plant introduced at one of Saudi Arabia’s leading dairies.
The new equipment installed by Danish filtration specialist, GEA Filtration has significantly reduced the Almarai dairy company’s reliance on large quantities of expensive imported milk powder.
Previously, imported milk powder was necessary to supplement standard milk in the production of premium products such as yoghurt, labneh (strained yoghurt) and deserts.
But following the installation of the reverse osmosis equipment, the dairy can now concentrate its own surplus milk to replace the volatilely-priced imported milk powder during production.
The reverse osmosis process is a separation technique which uses a semi permeable living cell membrane where only water can pass through. “This process requires hydraulic pressure higher than osmonic pressure to diffuse water in the opposite direction toward the higher concentration,” according to statement by GEA Filtration.
“Typical processes might be in concentrating whey, polishing water where impurities are concentrated resulting in a more pure water.”
In replacing imported milk powder, the Almarai dairy can ensure that the quality of its concentrated milk is consistent, because it is now produced within the dairy itself, and in using its surplus milk avoids wasting a valuable product and conserves valuable water resources.
Cost control is also improved because the cost of the concentrated milk is known.
The reverse osmosis plant is said to have low maintenance costs and significantly lower labour costs due to its fully automatic operation and avoiding the need to handle milk powder.
The plant has a small footprint, freeing up space within the dairy, is simple to operate, and offers an impressive pay back period measured in months not years, claims the company.
Installation of the reverse osmosis filtration plant was completed early 2008.
GEA Filtration’s Ulrik Jakobsen said that his company’s reverse osmosis plant had found a “relevant and productive niche application,” in the Saudi Arabian dairy. “We are sure that there are many dairies around the world that could benefit in a similar way,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Gulf’s largest dairy by market value, Almarai Company operates seven super farms and processes food, in addition to marketing dairy products and fruit juices.
Last year, it announced a joint venture with drinks giant PepsiCo to invest in dairy and juice processors in the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.
The new venture known as International Dairy and Juice, the venture will be 52 per cent owned by PepsiCo and 48 per cent by Almarai.