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Research Call

DAFM Reference


DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15F683 Teagasc (UCC) €599,000

Project Title:

Future proofing the Irish cheese-whey industry - a step change process to move Irish dairy commodities up the value chain. (SETUP)

Project Coordinator:

Dr John Tobin

Project Abstract

Dairy processors in Ireland must future proof their operations against price volatilities in dairy commodities, particularly based on the outlook for the 2016 production season. This project targets novel valorisation technologies, such as new fractionation designs, which fit existing production platforms, for future investment. The creation of high added value in existing product portfolios, particularly cheese and whey, will help buffer the Irish dairy industry against international market volatilities.

The STEPUP project aims to revolutionise cheese and whey processing technologies in the Irish dairy industry by reversing the cheese to whey relationship in both Cheddar and Swiss type commercial processes. As such this project will develop, low temperature, scalable, cascade ceramic/organic microfiltration (MF) and ultrafiltration (UF) processes to create whey depleted recombined milks suitable for cheese making.

The soluble proteins (whey/β-casein) removed prior to cheese making will provide processors with an ideal whey source which is extremely desirable for sports/nutritional products and in particular to infant formula manufacturers due to improved nutritional quality. The absorption of the whey depleted milks in custom cheeses suitable for manufacture in typical Cheddar/Swiss type plant designs, creates options for cost effective stabilisation of caseins in low operational cost (as compared to spray drying), long shelf life products (i.e. cheese). Additionally Irish cheese manufacturers will benefit from the new cheese varieties of Cheddar, Swiss and Quark style cheeses created by the STEPUP project, which will be specifically targeted for export markets, which already absorb ~172,000 tonnes of cheddar type cheese and 35,000 tonnes of speciality cheeses from Irish processors per annum.

Finally removal of whey proteins before cheese manufacture will mean that subsequent whey streams will contain little or no whey proteins. However, the protein composition of whey produced by the STEPUP project will be dominated by Glycomacropeptide (GMP), which will provide Irish dairy processors with a high value, highly functional glycoprotein stream for use in staged nutritional/medical products.

Final Report:

Not available yet.