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Arla Foods Ingredients unveils milk fractionation technology

Editor’s note: Welcome to Ingredient Innovation, CMN’s new segment exploring recent innovations and trends in the dairy ingredients sector. For this segment, we will profile a leader in the ingredients industry as well as share updates on mergers and acquisitions and new offerings for cheese and dairy in ingredients — where flavor begins.

Photo courtesy of Arla Foods Ingredients

TARGETED NUTRITION — Henrik Andersen, CEO of Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI), says AFI’s new patented milk fractionation process means manufacturers can go from milk to infant formula in one step, rather than the current method, which entails many processing steps performed at multiple production sites. “This is a big step forward in serving the most demanding and vulnerable consumers in the entire dairy industry,” he says.
Graphic courtesy of Arla Foods Ingredients
MILK FRACTIONATION — By bypassing the cheesemaking process, Arla Foods Ingredients’ new patented milk fractionation technology not only allows for a bigger potential raw material pool, it also creates protein streams in a unique and fully controlled process with significantly reduced processing steps and a more gentle processing of milk.

By Alyssa Mitchell

AARHUS, Denmark — Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI), a 100% owned subsidiary of Denmark-based Arla Foods, recently introduced a new technology to separate milk into its different protein components, opening the door to infinite innovation possibilities, the company says.

The patented method, called milk fractionation, came about as AFI was seeking a scientific breakthrough to enable scientists, nutritionists and health professionals to create next-generation dairy products. This has now been made possible through the selection of specific pure milk proteins — for example, casein and serum whey proteins, the company says.

AFI, with U.S. offices in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is a leading whey ingredient supplier for early life nutrition, baking, dairy, medical applications and sports nutrition. The company’s functional and nutritional whey proteins, milk minerals, lactose and whey permeate can promote nutrition, improve texture, prolong freshness and increase yield for industrial food products.

Henrik Andersen, CEO of AFI, says the company’s new patented milk fractionation process means manufacturers can go from milk to infant formula in one step, rather than the current method, which entails many processing steps performed at multiple production sites.

“For decades, we have been trying to help mothers who cannot breastfeed their child by developing dairy-based alternatives, and all solutions have depended on using whey — a byproduct from cheesemaking — as a key ingredient,” Andersen says. “Comprehensive process controls and extensive quality systems ensure that this is a safe and reliable process. Now, we are ready to take the next step, and this is a big step forward in serving the most demanding and vulnerable consumers in the entire dairy industry.”

Andersen says for the first time in history, AFI has designed a process with the single purpose to produce infant formula directly from fresh milk without any additives.

“Our focus right now is on infant nutrition, and in particular infant formula based on organic milk,” he says. “What this means is, when a product is created using this technology, manufacturers will have the ability to talk about a much cleaner label and a product that has been much less processed and is therefore truly organic.”

Andersen notes AFI currently is using this milk fractionation process to manufacture the organic Baby&Me brand for Arla Foods. It also has plans to launch its first organic private label infant formula solution using milk fractionation in 2022.

“This technology will help us to take our expertise in infant formula to the next level, particularly in the organic sector, and the technology has the potential to change the industry,” Andersen says.

“Change will not come overnight, but we have reason to believe this way of producing infant formula will become the new standard over time,” he adds.

By bypassing the cheesemaking process, AFI’s new patented milk fractionation technology not only allows for a bigger potential raw material pool, it also creates protein streams in a unique and fully controlled process with significantly reduced processing steps and a much more gentle processing of the milk, Andersen notes.

“The method has been several years in development, and I’m delighted to see what was once a vision become a commercial reality with the power to completely revolutionize targeted nutrition for vulnerable groups,” he says. “As science-based innovators, we are driven to invent and reinvent our processes to ensure we have the best possible products available and continue to lead the way in whey.”

He notes consumers increasingly want food and beverage products that provide protective or preventative health benefits.

“For example, we are seeing demand for ingredients that combine immune system support with other benefits,” Andersen says. “Another trend is increasing consumer demand for products with a natural, healthy or wholesome positioning, which ties in with the popularity of organic products. One of Arla Foods Ingredients’ major focus areas this year has been in helping manufacturers to extend their portfolios with products that are both organic and packed with high-quality protein. Our milk fractionation process will allow us to extend our organic capabilities.”

The new technology allows AFI to develop its expertise in infant formula and sports nutrition, while also catering to other vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or those with specific medical needs, he adds.

“We can develop specialized nutrient-specific foods for these categories because we now have the technology to select specific pure milk proteins such as casein and serum whey proteins,” he says.

In addition to infant formula applications, the new fractionation method enables manufacturers to separate off quite a bit of the milk protein casein, which is a coproduct from the milk fractionation process, Andersen says.

“This coproduct is a very pure milk protein source, and it opens new markets for us in sports nutrition and medical nutrition,” he says. “We believe it gives us the opportunity to offer much better quality, particularly from a taste point of view, as well as the option to produce organic options.

“Most of the sports and medical nutrition products in the market today are based on milk proteins using caseinates, which is a very processed milk protein,” he adds. “What we can now offer here is a much more native milk protein, where basically the micellar casein is intact. Micellar casein is a slow-digesting protein, and it has been linked to greater strength and endurance.”

The company last year launched its first organic ingredient, MicelPure, a micellar casein isolate (MCI) and the first organic MCI on the market.

MicelPure contains a minimum of 87% native protein. Suitable for food, functional health foods and active nutrition applications, it is low in lactose and fat, heat-stable and taste-neutral, the company says. It can be used for food applications such as cooking-stable cheeses, yogurts, ice cream and puddings, as well as health and performance applications, such as ready-to-drink, high-protein beverages and powder shakes.

Meanwhile, looking ahead, Andersen notes skyr is another dairy category that has seen massive growth.

“In the United Kingdom, it already accounts for around a quarter of the yogurt market, and it is also growing in popularity in other European countries,” he says.

AFI recently launched Nutrilac YO-4575, a natural whey protein ingredient specially developed to increase creamy mouthfeel in high-viscosity fermented products such as skyr, he notes.

“Skyr is rapidly heading out of its niche and into the mainstream,” says Torben Jensen, category manager for Fresh Dairy Products at AFI. “However, manufacturers looking to capitalize on its huge potential need to be able to meet consumer preferences on flavor, texture and appearance. Nutrilac YO-4575 consistently delivers a creamy mouthfeel, optimum texture and fresh taste, allowing brands to satisfy consumer needs and unlock the full potential of skyr.”

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