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 lead to a variety of uses.

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 2015/16.

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 is no longer a significant producer of casein and imports the vast majority of its requirements; mainly from New Zealand (over 70% of the total volume), with the balance from Europe in 2015/16.