Milk Proteins: Simple Math
Fractionated milk proteins earn dividends by subtracting volatile commodity costs.
BakingBusiness.com, April 1, 2011
by Laurie Gorton
Bakers cannot control the inputs that drive commodity costs up and down. Whether caused by seasonality or speculation, wide swings in the price and availability of commodity ingredients negatively affect the baker’s ability to recover costs and to price baked foods fairly. Recently, problems in the egg market exacerbated already difficult pricing. Yet replacement of eggs in bakery formulations usually doesn’t lend itself to one-size-fits-all approaches.

Fractionated milk proteins, offered as blends tailored to application needs, provide a cost-effective answer, according to Arla Foods Ingredients, Basking Ridge, NJ. The company’s Nutrilac BK and Multilac BK lines of functional whey proteins work in breads, cakes, pastries, pies, muffins, cookies, donuts and brownies, as well as custards, fillings and bakery washes and glazes. Egg replacement rates range from 50 to 100%, depending on application and customer need, and cost savings reach 10 to 30% against market standards.

In cakes, for example, the egg replacers provide resilient structure and low crumbliness. They can also increase batter viscosity, produce higher cake volume and lengthen shelf life — or be tailored to give the same performance as the eggs they replace. The dry ingredients are easy to handle and can be stored for up to 18 months. They also enable 95 to 99% reduction in cholesterol, contributing 92% less fat and 35% fewer calories than eggs.

PERFORM LIKE EGGS.

“Through fractionation and modification, we can make whey proteins that perform similarly to eggs in their functions,” said Soren Norgaard, technical manager, Arla Foods Ingredients. “They neutralize the cost problems often associated with commodity ingredients.”

Like any natural source, whey contains many different protein types rather than a single variety. Fractionation separates them according to functional characteristics. A number of physical and chemical modification processes are applied to further alter their performance, and the drying stage sets particle size to suit the dissolving rate required.

“Whey proteins provide the building blocks that give emulsification, gelling and whipping properties,” Mr. Norgaard said. “Basically, we pull apart whey and rearrange it to achieve the functionality needed. Yet the baker can still label it as milk or whey protein.”

Arla works with its customers to develop tailored protein choices. “One egg replacer won’t work in all applications,” Mr. Norgaard noted. The company’s bakery technicians document the application and test for functionality, thus ensuring consistent performance. When removing egg powder, an equivalent in dry materials must be added. “The proteins are quite concentrated,” he continued, “and we can suggest fillers such as cake flour, sugar, starch and so forth.”

Raw materials are sourced internally from parent company Arla Foods amba, Viby, Denmark, a cooperative with 8,000 Danish and Swedish farmer-members.

COST ACCOUNTING.

It may seem counterintuitive to cut commodity costs by using ingredients themselves derived from commodities, but dairy industry economics actually favor this arrangement. Cheesemaking generates vast amounts of leftover liquids, called whey. The math is simple: 100 lb of milk yields 10 lb of cheese and 90 lb of whey. Whey contains 95% water and 5% solids, and the solids consist of 20% minerals, 70% sugars and 10% proteins.

Arla ranks among the world’s largest producers of retail dairy products (milk, butter, cheese and more) and, thus, generates corresponding huge amounts of whey. About 30 years ago, the cooperative challenged itself to find a better use for whey than simply dumping it on farmers’ fields, the time-honored method for disposing of this excess material. What was once waste became the feedstock for value-added ingredients.

Over the years, Arla scientists and engineers learned to filter, modify, separate and recombine the proteins. Today, more than 60 researchers work in the company’s innovation group, with 20 assigned exclusively to fractionation technology and six devoted to bakery applications and the bakery test lab. In addition to whey protein fractions, Arla Foods Ingredients produces whey powder, whey protein concentrates, whey protein isolates and whey protein hydrolyzates.

What’s next for fractionated whey proteins? “Gluten-free baked foods,” Mr. Norgaard responded. “This is a big project for us, and the functions being examined are water-binding and structuring.”

Arla Foods Ingredients publishes a monthly technical newsletter and posts information about its products at www.arlafoodsingredients.com.