Arla adapting dairy space food for earth

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Arla, Nutrition, Milk, Dairy product

A supply deal with US space agency NASA has helped Scandinavian
dairy firm Arla Foods to develop a raft of cutting edge products it
now wants to adapt for consumers on earth.

Astronauts, it seems, have never had it so good. NASA has given its approval to Arla for five yoghurt ranges, a powder-based milk chocolate with vitamins and probiotics, and small chocolate balls, known as Milkbites, that contain the nutritional value of a glass of milk.

These dairy products, under development since 2001 under Arla's Lacmos space project, have now become official items on NASA's spaceship menus.

Yet, while Arla was pleased to be helping dairy conquer the final frontier, the group said the next stage of its project would be adapting its innovation for the mass market down here.

"The project has provided us with extensive knowledge and a large network within scientific research,"​ said Carsten Hallund Slot, space project manager at Arla Foods Innovation.

"We'll simply move the project back to earth,"​ he said, adding that the products could be great for the billions of people around the world who have no access to refrigerators.

"The 'milkbites', for instance, can be used as a nutritious snack for children. As the space products are designed for extreme conditions, they may also be useful in connection with disasters or expeditions to remote areas of the earth."

One such product is Arla's dehydrated, powdered yoghurt, which has a shelf-life of more than two years.

The firm's plan constitutes a novel approach to the growing market for added value dairy foods; something Arla and many other European dairy groups are striving to profit from as high input costs, low commodity prices and EU agricultural reforms eat into margins.

Slot believes Arla already stands to benefit from the publicity of putting dairy into space.

"Although Arla is an innovative business, this may not always be what consumers see. So, when we talk about Lacmos, milk and other dairy products for space travel, people listen enthusiastically."

On the processing side, the company said its space project had improved its knowledge of food safety because of the need to make sure no astronaut caught food poisoning whilst in space.

The firm also did extra research into the effects of certain foods and ingredients on human health.

Related topics: Arla Foods, Ingredients

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