Murray Goulburn will consider debt funding of up to $100m to shore up the current farmgate price of $5.20kg milk solids (MS).
Murray Goulburn innovation manager Michael Phillips, who recently won the $20,000 Dairy Australia innovation in dairy manufacturing award, will use the prize money to help find better uses for the by-products from acid whey.
This by-product is of low value and an environmental challenge. He says there are opportunities to increase its value and reduce impact on the environment.
“There is a large amount of excess by-product contributing to large losses for manufacturers and, ultimately, dairy farmers.”
Whey now used for low-value products such as stockfeed has potential as human food of high dollar value.
“We are looking at ways to make this into whey powders and similar products to make the process sustainable and profitable.”
These by-products appear to represent the largest milksolids losses. Phillips believes finding a use for the waste could make the industry more sustainable and profitable.
“This would add additional value to the milk and translate into increased milk price and farm gate returns.”
For Murray Goulburn its 2009-10 sales of this product were at least 10,000 tonnes and returned $9m to supplier farmers.
Phillips plans to use the prize money to visit countries with similar waste management challenges. He will also work with Dairy Australia and other manufacturers to identify and analyse overall losses from excess waste by-product and identify better uses for them.
Phillips has been with Murray Goulburn for 18 years, having started in research and product development.
“I was elated when I won the award, and it’s great to get recognition for the hard work and time put in. I’ve been interested in the concept since we started making lactose 15 years ago although we only started the research in 2009.
“The project team has members from the Cobram and Rochester factories, collaborating with other factories in the region such as Tatura Milk and Kraft.”
Dairy Australia program manager product innovation Mani Iyer says the innovation in dairy manufacturing award was a Dairy Australia initiative to foster a culture of excellence and innovation.
“Innovation is the key to keeping Australia’s dairy industry competitive and sustainable,” Iyer says.
“Dairy Australia is committed to rewarding innovation and encouraging innovators because it is innovation that will keep our industry strong and profitable.”