Tonnes of Greek yoghurt byproducts could harm the environment if not discarded properly. Food companies have been finding ways on how to manage the yoghurt’s waste material, acid whey, since the production boom. An ongoing research at the University of Wisconsin in Madison is developing a technology that could transform yoghurt waste into reusable products.

Greek yoghurt producers have been making deals with farmland owners to handle the byproducts, but incorporating acid whey into farm systems is not the most feasible and nature-friendly option. For more than a couple of years, scientists at the Wisconsin Centre for Dairy Research (CDR) in UW have been studying how to extract edible-grade lactose from acid whey.

According to Dean Sommer, a food technologist at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the project aims to isolate the byproducts’ components and to identify which can be processed for other uses. He said that several food companies have already integrated this kind of technology in their manufacturing plants.

At first, developing the filtration process was difficult for the research team as the byproducts contain less protein and have greater water content. Other solid components such as lactose, calcium, galactose, lactic acid and phosphorus make it more challenging to process. To segregate these components, the researchers made use of high-tech filtration systems.

Karen Smith, one of the food technologists working on the project, explained that the team utilised available membranes to develop the appropriate filtration process that generates end products of good quality. The research centre has focused on lactose because this food ingredient has good commercial use. Segregating the other acid whey components is part of the team’s future pursuit until nothing is left of the ingredients, except for water.

Yearly production of Greek yoghurt totals to a volume of 500,000 tonnes in the United States. Consequently, 1 million tonnes of acid whey is generated. Other food companies like Arla Food Ingredients have also started developing technologies that convert acid whey to consumer products. Arla Foods implements a technology that involves the use of protein obtained from milk so the process yields dairy products such as cheese, beverages and desserts. With these kinds of implements, Greek yoghurt manufacturers would be able to lessen problematic waste and profit from acid whey.

To contact the writer, email:

Related Stories on Yoghurt Byproducts:

Unique Products Made From Whey

Unique Protein Products Made From Acid Whey

Greek Yogurt Process Promises An End To 1 Million Tons of Acid Whey