New innovations give near expired milk and dairy products new life
Milk has long been a product worth preserving. Yet, even with Louis Pasteur’s 1863 discovery, dairy continues to have a limited shelf life. More than 160 years later, some of the dairy industry’s biggest innovations for its ivory liquid have more to do with its afterlife than extending its primary shelf life. Because of these advancements, milk — even in its near expired state — now has more to give than ever before.
Milk: From demand to disposal
“Milk is one of the most nutritious foods available,” said Richard Bradfield, General Manager of International Ingredients Incorporated (IIC). IIC is a sister company to Green Field Solutions (GFS) within the International Family of Companies.
“As an industry, we recognize the need to feed a growing world population with the same — or less — amount of finite resources.”
One solution addresses the reclamation of near expired products and dairy by-products — milk’s afterlife, if you will. Instead of drains, land-spreading or landfills — as has historically been the case — scientifically pinpointed ingredients can be safely returned to the food supply chain. These repurposed ingredients are meeting a variety of dietary needs without requiring additional land conversion for crops.
The (formerly) unrealized potential of unsold milk
IIC repurposes milk by-products during its production as well as already shelved merchandise approaching its inevitable end of life. The reclaimed milk undergoes a process called spray drying, which removes the moisture and results in a nutrient-rich powder often sold as ingredients for swine, veal and calf feed.
“We help dairy companies avoid throwing away ingredients that are close to expiration,” said Charlie Hall. Hall is a Food Technologist at International Food Products Company (IFPC), also part of the International Family of Companies. “With extensive testing, we can ensure each ingredient that is returned to the food supply chain is functional and safe.”
Similarly, the by-products of making cheese may seem to some just the slop left over when curds are strained from liquid milk. However, IFPC processes these leftovers into a highly digestible, nutritious ingredient for young swine.
“We have worked very closely with cheese companies to capture their co-product streams,” said Bradfield. “We built the first dedicated plant in the world to process this dairy material into a high quality animal feed ingredient. What was once treated as a waste to the dairy industry is now a 1.5 billion pound-per-year business….a better business, a better earth.”
Sustainable Dairy: Eco-Friendly Transportation
Expanding milk’s long-term functionality is as sustainable in terms of environmental impact as it is economic benefit for those responsible for its production, delivery and sale. By making better use of precious resources while simultaneously creating value for our clients, we are helping them be more efficient and environmentally friendly. This philosophy encapsulates everything from what a waste stream can become to how it is transported.
“Because the majority of our ingredients are dry blends, we are able to limit the costly expenses and environmental impacts of transporting liquid products over the road,” Hall said.
Altogether, the repurposing of unsold milk, and more broadly dairy, is the perfect demonstration of how waste streams can have more to give than initially meets the eye.
Case studies in dairy reclamation
Helping the dairy industry take sustainability a step further means a commitment to new innovations and better processes to address waste from production residuals to unsold products at retail. Here’s a few examples of how GFS is doing just that and getting greater value for its client’s dairy waste products: