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Don't waste your acid whey! Arla concept turns by-product into value-added dairy

By Mark Astley+

20-Sep-2013
Last updated the 20-Sep-2013 at 14:54 GMT

According to AFI, acid whey can be used as a base ingredient for high-protein fermented beverages, whey smoothies and fermented desserts.
According to AFI, acid whey can be used as a base ingredient for high-protein fermented beverages, whey smoothies and fermented desserts.

Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI) has developed a concept for the utilization of Greek yogurt by-product, acid whey, which enables manufacturers to produce value-added dairy products using the waste product as a base material.

According to AFI, the solution, which involves the enrichment of acid whey with AFI-manufactured Nutrilac protein, allows Greek strained yogurt manufacturers to produce value-added dairy products, such as high-protein fermented beverages, whey smoothies and fermented desserts, from the waste product.

“The acid whey is used as a base material, to which our Nutrilac protein is added to increase functionality. High-protein drinks are traditionally built on milk, with this concept we can build them on acid whey,” Arla Foods Ingredients senior director of functional milk protein, Carsten Valentin, told DairyReporter.com.

“You can build the product you want based on this concept. It’s not a one size fits all, it depends on what type of product you want to develop.”

“Win-win-win situation”

For every kilogram of milk used during traditional Greek yogurt manufacturing processes, only one-third ends up in the final product. The remaining liquid is commonly referred to as acid whey.

Concerns about the potential environmental impact of acid whey emerged earlier this year, following claims that US Greek yogurt manufacturers were “scrambling to figure out what to do with” the increasing amount of acid whey being produced.

Up to now, the waste product has typically been sold to the animal feeds and bio fuels markets. But transport and handling costs associated with these disposal measures are high – meaning that others simply dispose of their acid whey in waste streams.

“Acid whey is a real hassle,” said Valentin. “Our customers struggle to get rid of it. It is a huge issue.”

“Today, our customers have to dispose of their acid whey, which means transport and handling costs. But with our concept it can just be re-utilized.”

“Our concept has not created a win-win situation for Greek yogurt manufacturers. It has created a win-win-win situation. They can solve the disposal problem, improve their environmental image, and launch new products."

“There are definite savings to be made here, and you can build a nice corporate responsibility story on the back of this.”

Chobani and Dannon are among a number of Greek yogurt manufacturers that have vowed to improve their acid whey disposal efforts.

Quark acid whey utilization

As well as requests from Greek yogurt manufacturers around the world, AFI has received an unanticipated level of interest from manufacturers of quark, Valentin added.

“Greek yogurt manufacturing is one source of acid whey, but quark manufacturers also have the same issue,” he said. “We have already had requests from Russia, where they produce a lot of quark.”

“We honestly didn't expect to see demand from Russia, because this concept was initially targeted at Greek yogurt manufacturers.”

The solution was named 'Best Beverage Ingredient' at the Beverage Innovation Awards yesterday at drinktec 2013 in Munich.

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