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 and properties has led 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.
In Australia whey is also used domestically in the manufacture of infant formula, biscuits and ice-cream. The remainder is exported, with Indonesia, Japan, Greater China, Singapore and Thailand being the largest export markets for Australian whey powders in 2017/18.
Casein and caseinates are used as binding ingredients, emulsifiers and milk substitutes in processed foods, such as noodles, chocolate, sweets, mayonnaise, ice-cream and cheese manufacture. 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); 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. Imports are mainly from New Zealand (over 70% of the total volume), with the balance from Europe and the United States in 2017/18.