International Whey Conference looks to the future

The 7th International Whey Conference held in Rotterdam from 7th to 9th September offered some guiding principles on development in the field. Chairman of the European Whey Products Association since 2012, Valio Vice President in Sales Veli-Matti Riitamaa pronounced himself happy with the outcome of the conference.

“The conference provided participants with a glimpse into the future as well as a picture of what’s going on in whey processing right now. This forum also acts as a good opportunity to network with international players,” says Mr Riitamaa.

“One obvious trend going forward is the role of whey protein in maintaining muscle fitness. There are two distinct target groups. One comprises athletes and active exercisers, and in today’s ageing population the other is older people whose muscle mass begins to decrease.”

Although Valio is not currently manufacturing products specifically to maintain muscle fitness, demand is fairly high in a number of countries.

“Of course infant formula will continue to be the most important application for whey,” Mr Riitamaa points out.

Valio is by far the most efficient user of whey protein in the world, so more innovations can be expected from us in the future.

“Valio employs 85% of the whey generated as a by-product in the manufacture of its foods. There’s no other company in the world that comes even close, with whey more largely being used to manufacture animal feed. At present for example in the EU only 25–30% of whey generated goes into food production. The broad goal is to push that figure beyond 50% in the near future.”

“If Valio’s plans are realised, we’ll be putting the currently untapped proportion to good use in products we manufacture. Our own goal by the 2020s is that the only part of whey not employed in products will be water, and that will be re-used e.g. for rinsing,” envisions Mr Riitamaa.