Permeate market set to take off

Published 30 November 15

Regulators look set to approve a global standard for permeate powder, which should bring new opportunities for the product.

There is currently no international standard for permeate powder setting out composition and quality levels. As a result, authorities in a number of countries, including China, do not permit its use. The company who set the international standards, Codex, is currently considering the position for permeate, including whey permeate powder, and a decision is expected early next year.

If the international markets are opened up, the value of whey permeate powder would be expected to rise considerably, making the drying process much more worthwhile. As a result, UK cheese-makers who have whey permeate as a by-product should see a step-up in income.

Whey permeate is the by-product of the by-product in cheese manufacturing. After cheese production, the resultant whey is predominantly lactose but also contains any protein not retained in the cheese. A number of cheese manufacturers will separate the protein from the whey and turn it into high-protein powders such as WPC80 and Whey Protein Isolate. The by-product of this process is whey permeate, which consists mainly of lactose. The product can be dried into whey permeate powder, but the cost of drying can often out-weigh the value of the product.

Whey permeate can be used as a fat-free carbohydrate ingredient, including as a bulk sweetener in chocolate, confectionary and bakery products.