Industrial products PD Process and management for whey proteins

The New Zealand dairy industry is basically a farmers' cooperative. Within it there are dairy companies which process the milk, and they are represented on the NZ Dairy Board which markets the dairy products worldwide. There are several subsidiaries but two important marketing companies are New Zealand Milk Ltd and Whey Products New Zealand Ltd. The latter is responsible for marketing milk proteins as industrial products. There are several industrial milk protein categories, for example, caseins and whey proteins; these are divided into further categories according to their properties and also their uses.

Traditionally whey is the liquid remaining when curd for cheese making has been strained off, taking a proportion of the milk proteins. It contains a number of useful constituents including lactose or milk sugar, a little fat and the whey proteins, together with nearly 20 times their weight of water. In manufacture of whey powder, both the lactose and the water can be separated from the proteins. Because the proteins are not a single entity they themselves can be fractionated. So, specific protein fractions can result, each with special characteristics. These specific fractions can be characterised in terms of physical, chemical, functional and nutritional properties that offer the potential for new food products (Huffman, 1996).

Product development, in this case, lies in the scope for both designing the processing, which can include separation of protein fractions and other manipulation, and in finding worthwhile markets. Thus the product concept is essentially technologically defined as technical product characteristics and processing capability. The first of these uses the knowledge that whey proteins have been shown by research to be nutritionally important and desirable in the human diet, and the second the capacity to produce in quantity a range of these proteins to a close functionality specification. These protein products have then to be tailored in the PD Process to meet the needs of a market, which is identified and explored.

The main development group was the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute at Palmerston North, which also has overseas laboratories including one in California, and which is a substantial research and development unit of the NZ Dairy Board. To supplement their technical resources and skills, they worked with Massey University through the Food Technology Research Centre on technology, including product evaluation and model testing, and through the Chemistry Department on ion exchange resins. They cooperated with regional companies of the NZ Dairy Board in the USA, Europe and Japan particularly for market assessment, and with a dairy company, Kiwi Dairies Ltd, on aspects of the processing. Coordination was strategically vital, because of the long development period and so many groups involved in the development, and was effected by Whey Products New Zealand Ltd, another NZ Dairy Board subsidiary. The sequence of the development and the activities of the different groups are shown in Fig. 7.2.

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