The market for dairy permeate powder will “explode into life” – especially in Asia – once a global Codex standard is set, which could be as early as next year.
That’s the forecast made by Arla Foods Ingredients, one of the world’s leading permeate producers and one of a number of major dairy companies involved in the process of creating the new standard.
Permeate is a by-product of whey manufacturing. It is a low-cost, carbohydrate ingredient often used as a bulk sweetener in snacks, chocolate, confectionery, ice cream, desserts, beverages and bakery products. Permeate is highly valued for its ability to replace other, more expensive milk solids in food products without altering the taste or texture, or requiring any changes to processing parameters. Used as an alternative to whey powder, demineralised whey powder and lactose, whey permeate can optimise product quality in a range of applications.
However, there is currently no Codex agreement for dairy permeate, a factor that deters many countries from allowing it in food and beverage products. China, for example, offers huge potential for the ingredient, but the lack of a standard means the authorities do not permit its use. In other parts of the world, permeate is already approved – but many companies are reluctant to use it because there is no global consensus on how it should be labelled.
At the Codex annual meeting in the summer dairy companies agreed to develop a new standard for permeate within two years in order to address this and other technical issues, such as harmonisation of product quality and consistency. But it is hoped that the process will be fast-tracked to completion within 12 months.
In total 733,000 tonnes of permeate were produced in 2014, according to figures from the International Dairy Federation. North America accounts for more than half of this, but the majority of output there is used in animal feed. However, in recent years Arla Foods Ingredients has invested significantly in the manufacturing of high quality food-grade permeate as a free-flowing powder with a pleasant and stable taste profile. Arla Foods Ingredients has a permeate production facility in Denmark, which manufactures Kosher and Halal certified whey permeate – demand for which is expected to increase in 2016. It also has joint venture facilities in Argentina (with Sancor) and in Norway (with Tine).
Morten Kaas, director general foods at Arla Foods Ingredients, says “Permeate is a relatively new ingredient that has only been used in the food industry for the past 10 to 15 years. When the Codex standard for dairy permeate is agreed the market will explode into life. Most significantly, we hope China will authorise its use – and if that happens it is possible that other markets in Asia will follow. We’re confident that we’ll be able to fast-track the creation of the Codex standard so that it is in place during summer 2016. This gives food manufacturers an opportunity to start formulation trials now to see how permeate can benefit their business.”