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Fonterra firm against removing permeate

By Ankush Chibber , 14-Aug-2012

New Zealand’s largest dairy cooperative is refusing to join milk producers and marquee retailers that are removing permeate from their milk brands.

Over the last two months, several companies in both Australia and New Zealand have looked to wean away from permeate, a natural waste product from the ultra-filtration of milk, which is banned in some countries.

However, Fonterra is unmoved. A spokesperson for the dairy giant told FoodNavigator-Asia that permeate is used as an additive in Fonterra milk, but not at excessive levels.

“We use milk permeate to standardise protein levels in our milk throughout the year. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand [FSANZ] code specifies that milk must contain a minimum of three per cent protein,” he said.

NZ milk protein levels vary during the year because of seasonal dairy production, he said.

“Permeate, a lactose-rich stream produced from the ultra-filtration of milk, is added to our range of Blue milks to ensure that the milk protein composition is consistent throughout the year,” he revealed.

Farm-like milk

When asked if Fonterra would follow the lead of Australian brands that dropped permeate citing customer preference for farm-like milk, the spokesperson said that they had not got the same feedback from their customers.

“We continually monitor market and consumer trends but at this stage have no plans to change our approach,” he said.

The first blow against permeate was dealt in June by Australian beverage heavyweight Lion Beverages, which announced that that beginning 1 July, the country’s two largest brands, Pura Milk and Dairy Farmers would be offered without permeate.

Lion said that in omitting permeate, it had responded to consumer demand for purer, simpler and less processed food that comes from local sources in Australia’s western and southern states.

Lion was quickly followed by supermarket giants, Woolworths and Coles, who announced their private label milk will no longer contain permeate.

The cuts came after many local media reports through April this year in Australia, which said that milk producers were adding permeate to their milk to offset costs of production in a market reeling under a brutal price war. 

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