Casein and whey

Whey is a by-product of the cheese making process. Traditionally this product was disposed of in liquid form.  However, recognition of the value of whey’s components has seen the production and utilisation of whey powders and protein concentrates increase significantly in recent years.

Food-grade whey powder is used in the manufacture of ice-cream, bakery products (cakes, biscuits), chocolate flavouring, infant formula, yoghurt, beverages and processed meat. Industrial uses include animal feed (for pigs, horses and poultry), calf milk replacer and even as a carrier for herbicides.

Whey protein concentrates are used in snack foods, juices, confectionery, ice-cream, biscuits, processed meats, (milk) protein drinks, desserts, infant foods and dietetic products. Products such as cosmetics, skin creams, bath salts and detergents also contain protein concentrates.

Around 30% of Australia’s whey production is used domestically in the manufacture of infant formula, biscuits and ice-cream. The remainder is exported, with Singapore, Greater China, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia being the largest export markets for Australian whey powders in 2014/15.

Casein and caseinates are ingredients in noodles, chocolate, sweets, mayonnaise, ice-cream and cheese manufacture. They are used as binding ingredients, emulsifiers and milk substitutes in processed foods. Industrial uses of casein and caseinates include: plastics (buttons, knitting needles); the manufacture of synthetic fibres and chemicals (plants, glues, glazed paper, putty and cosmetics); as a reinforcing agent and stabiliser for rubber in automobile tyres; a nutritional supplement and binder in calf milk replacers; and a range of other technical applications.

Australia no longer produces casein and imports its requirements; mainly from New Zealand (over 70% of the total volume), with the balance from Europe in 2014/15.