Dairy Dialog podcast 113: Amcor, NY MilkLaunch, Wheyward Spirit, Treetop Biopak

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Dairy Dialog 113: Amcor, NY MilkLaunch, Wheyward Spirit, Treetop Biopak
Dairy Dialog 113: Amcor, NY MilkLaunch, Wheyward Spirit, Treetop Biopak

Related tags Amcor Packaging compostable packaging Milk Chocolate milk spirits Whey Cheese

It’s another four-interview podcast this week, with recyclable soft cheese packaging, the winner of the NY MilkLaunch competition, a spirit made from whey, and compostable packaging the subjects.

We chat with Mathieu Nicey, marketing manager for dairy, EMEA, Amcor; founder and CEO of Wheyward Spirit, Emily Darchuk; director of Treetop Biopak, Amir Gross; and Manny Lubin, co-founder of Slate Milk and Fred Schonenberg, founder of VentureFuel.

We also have our weekly look at the global dairy markets with Liam Fenton at StoneX.

Amcor’s Matrix paper-based recyclable packaging for soft cheese wins innovation award

Swiss-headquartered global packaging company Amcor won a Silver prize at the 2020 Packaging Innovation Awards, sponsored by Dow. The company was recognized for its Matrix range, the industry’s first paper-based, paraffin-free and recyclable packaging for soft cheese.

This innovation of providing the right breathable barrier for soft cheese while removing paraffin has transformed a non-recyclable packaging material into a cheese wrap that can be recycled in the paper stream.

Michael Zacka, president Amcor Flexibles EMEA, said, “Matrix’s breakthrough paraffin-free technology brings soft cheese packaging into the circular economy and we are pleased it has been recognised with a prestigious Dow award. Matrix is another move in the right direction for sustainability combined with performance – offering cheese manufacturers improved flavour control and recyclability.”

Soft cheese continues to ripen after it is packaged, and this process needs to be managed through moisture absorption and gas exchange. Over the years, cheese producers have typically used paper packaging with a paraffin (wax) layer. While this offers some advantages, the paraffin can easily transfer to the cheese product, potentially impairing its taste. Using Matrix’s breathable technology, soft cheese producers can control the ripening process, delivering the right taste and texture to consumers throughout the cheese’s shelf life.

The other challenge with traditional paraffin-coated packaging is it makes the paper hard to recycle. Amcor’s Matrix range is a more sustainable option thanks to its independently tested recyclability in the paper stream. Overall, the production and use of Matrix can reduce the packaging’s carbon footprint by 28%.  As a partner in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy, this innovation supports Amcor’s commitment to develop all its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025. 

Additionally, Matrix extends the packaging material’s storage time up to 12 months compared to only six months for paraffin-based packaging. This helps cheese producers, which are often small businesses, to manage their packaging inventory and reduce material waste.

New York startup competition MilkLaunch selects Slate Milk as winner

NYS MilkLaunch, a new startup competition focused on accelerating product innovation for dairy products in New York State, has selected Slate Milk as the winner of its inaugural competition.

Slate has been awarded $150,000 worth of support to accelerate its new product in the market.

More than 1,000 consumers combined with eight judges, including the president of Chobani and head of investments at Zx Ventures, voted on uniqueness, taste, viability and the founding team.

Slate is a low sugar, higher protein line of lactose-free milks for everyone – not just children. They developed a vanilla flavor specifically for the competition.

MilkLaunch is run by corporate innovation consultancy VentureFuel in collaboration with The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York Dairy Promotion Order (DPO) Advisory Board. The open competition included global applicants ranging from idea stage to existing new products with sales under $250,000 that contain at least 50% fluid milk.

Slate co-founders Manny Lubin and Josh Belinsky said, "There were plenty of people in the NY Ag community who took a chance on us, and helped us launch when we were just an idea. To now have that same community award us the grand prize is extremely exciting. Slate is simply a compilation of all of our employees, investors, advisors and partners. We can't wait to continue to grow and innovate real milk with NY Ag as a partner!"

"Our goal with this program was to re-imagine and re-invigorate liquid dairy through new products that capture new consumers to drive demand for dairy in New York state​," said Fred Schonenberg, Founder of VentureFuel.

"Slate exhibits the best of external innovation – utilizing core products in new and exciting ways that can accelerate growth for an entire industry."

The other three finalists were Karviva, Superfrau and Pursue Happiness Cold Brew Cowffee.

All four semi-finalists received $15,000 worth of support each to develop a prototype, while receiving a suite of resources including graphic design, lab or kitchen time, and mentorship from global marketing, packaging, and distribution experts from companies including Chobani, Diageo, Pod Foods, Hudson Valley Fresh, Blue Hill Farm and more. The total value of the competition prizing is more than $210,000.

KM Packaging Launches Compostable Product Range

Global flexible packaging and lidding films supplier KM Packaging has launched a new range of compostable products.

The C-Range of bio-plastic packaging materials includes shrink wrap, stretch wrap, adhesive tape, nets and bags. It enhances KM’s portfolio of sustainable flexible packaging solutions and offers customers a wider range of choice.

The new range consists of:

Industrially compostable shrink film for packaging of vegetables, bakery, and other foodstuffs as well as bundling multi-packs and as a secondary wrap for packed goods.

Home compostable stretch or cling film made from bio-based renewable sources.

Industrially compostable adhesive tape made from bio-based sources and natural gum.

Home compostable bags suitable for fresh produce, bakery, and meat.


Industrially compostable net suitable for a wide range of applications, with superior tear and heat resistance.

The bio-plastic products have been developed in partnership with Treetop Biopak, which specializes in providing innovative compostable packaging solutions.

Treetop owner Amir Gross, who has more than 15 years’ experience in the packaging industry, said, “Innovations in bio-plastics allow us to offer an ever-growing range of compostable packaging materials.

“Compostable packaging is an excellent circular solution – from plant to pack and then back to compost, to be used for growing new plants. Also, their environmental benefits include a reduced dependency on fossil fuels​.”

Compostable bio-plastics will biodegrade if disposed of through home composting or industrial composting, depending on the material. The global bio-plastics market size has an estimated current value of around £7.5bn ($10bn) and is expected to grow by some 20% over the next five years.

The C-Range brings together Treetop’s knowledge within the market and KM’s wider flexible packaging expertise, international reach, and ability to bring products to market with the highest standards of quality and service. 

Manufacturers using the compostable packaging products benefit from a similar look and feel as plastic. They also continue to gain reliable properties that provide protection, presentation, and preservation for both primary and secondary packaging applications.

KM Packaging’s commercial director Graham Holding said, “The new C-Range of compostable products enhances our overall product portfolio. 

“It builds on our core strengths, offering material choice and ensuring the right material is selected for the application. The range helps us to ensure customers always gain the solution that’s tailored to their needs.”

Wheyward Spirit

Wheyward Spirit is a sustainably-sourced whey spirit created on the west coast of the US by founder and CEO, Emily Darchuk.

Wheyward Spirit services small farms by sourcing only from domestic dairies that create the spirit’s signature flavor of oaky hints of vanilla cream, and warm spice notes, rounded with a subtle pear aroma.  

“The feedback from mixologists has been incredible and the creativity in cocktails developed has been exciting to see. We like to say curiosity is what gets people to try Wheyward Spirit, but our quality is what makes you a believer in our product and supporter of our mission,”​ Darchuk said.

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