Whey permeates are by-products of whey concentrate production, and consist of lactose, sugar and milk minerals. They are used in a broad range of applications, including baked foods to improve browning, sweetness, and to give a dairy-like flavour; snack foods as a filler; and in dairy applications like processed cheese and ice cream as a milk source.
The Danish dairy firm has long offered permeates in different grades, but technical manager Soren Norgaard told FoodNavigator.com that it spent several years developing the next generation of the ingredient.
The result is Variolac 960, a range of free flow permeates with 96 per cent lactose content – significantly higher than the percentage in standard permeate. Norgaard said this brings a more appealing, sweeter flavour.
“The taste allows for higher dosage levels, as there is no flavour limit. Other permeates have an off-taste at high levels.”
Being able to use more permeate could mean it could replace other fillers that are more expensive, such as pure lactose, whey powder, maltodextrin and dextrose.
In addition, the new range boasts low hygroscopy – that is, absorption of water. This means it can be stored for longer retaining its free-flowing properties.
Norgaard added that the low-hygroscopy attribute also makes it easier to handle on the production line since it does not clump and accumulate inside the machinery, thus reducing the need for cleaning.
Of these two main benefits he said: “This is what customers are looking for, and what makes the product unique”.
Tweaking the process
Norgaard was not at liberty to give full details of the changes made to the production process that enabled the better functionality of the new offering. But he did reveal that it involves changes to the process flow which alter the crystal structure, as well as filtration changes.
Although Arla will continue to offer its standard permeates alongside the new offering, Nordgaard said: “The intention is to move towards the new permeate, as it has clear benefits”.
He stressed that it is not more expensive to use, and pound-for-pound it costs around the same as standard permeates.
He was not able to give an exact price indication, since whey prices fluctuate wildly.
The applications for which Arla is proposing Variolac 960 include bakery, dairy, ready meals, seasonings and instant formula.