Elevated Whey Protein Prices Offer an Opportunity to Optimize Process and Increase Yield

“Dairy product buyers and producers can’t seem to catch a break.  With a global shortage of fresh milk and a bullish outlook for 2022 – it seems the elevated whey protein prices are here to stay (Food Business News, Jan. 2022)”.  

In today’s highly dynamic global dairy marketplace, processors are focused on meeting the growing consumer demand while balancing the global milk shortages and striving to maintain quality and yield targets.   

With performance and cost reduction as key business drivers for most processors in 2022, many are turning to a holistic approach and determining their Total Value of Operation (TVO) to assess the entire operation rather than just a unit process, thus finding ways to optimize asset utilization to drive revenue and profit growth.  

How can an asset be most effectively used to maximize financial return? 

Bolstering earnings through asset utilization first requires establishing baseline performance metrics for capacity, yield, and quality, ensuring underlying analytical data is accurate and dependable.  Once confidence in the process is achieved, a data-based approach should be used to understand the interdependencies of the process both upstream and downstream.   

Yes, Whey… It is possible 

In the case of whey protein concentrate production, the first membrane separation is ultrafiltration (UF), where whey protein is captured as the concentrate and the remaining lactose and minerals are filtered into the permeate stream. Historically, processors have waited until the end of the membrane life before replacing. However, this approach yields significant protein [and profit] loss as the membrane performance deteriorates over time.  

Using a data-based approach and understanding the nuances of the process, Solecta has been able to work with dairy processors across the globe to deliver results that clearly and quantitatively  show the optimal element change out timing. By replacing the elements based on performance and protein loss, processors have been able to increase yield and overall profits.  In addition to optimizing membrane element performance and replacement timing, Solecta’s TVO approach was able to streamline a client’s overall process to improve uptime, save water and energy, and reduce chemical use.  Through close client partnerships and following the TVO approach, processors have been able to navigate the challenging market dynamics while increasing protein capture valued at more than $395,000 annually. In addition, a 15% reduction in rinse water usage and a 25% reduction in chemical usage have also been achieved and validated by the client. 

“As we look toward the future, our view is that the momentum being created around the adoption of TVO principles will continue to accelerate.  The potency of the TVO principles to optimize a client’s operation and improve overall process economics directly supports the long-term financial health and viability of our clients and the broader dairy industry.” Derek Hibbard, VP Sales and Marketing 

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