Longer-lasting Australian dairy products with high nutritional value will soon be available to consumers in Australia and overseas thanks to a major industrial research initiative.
The new ARC Dairy Innovation Hub will assist Australian dairy manufacturers to develop new products to meet the increasing local and international demand for high quality dairy products particularly in Asia.
Potential new products could include butter and dairy blends with improved taste and spreadability, lactose-free and reduced fat, long-life milks that really do "taste like real milk", yoghurt that will retain its texture for longer without "watering off" in the fridge, and a wider range of more consistent, natural cheese flavours and textures.
Hub Director, Associate Professor Sally Gras of The University of Melbourne,said the initiative brings together three of Australia’s leading dairy research groups in a five-year, $13 million Industrial Transformation Research Program, cofunded by the Australian Research Council, Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd, The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland.
"Dairy manufacturing is currently worth more than two billion dollars to the Australian economy and will continue to increase as the demand for food required in Asia doubles in coming years".
"We will work to find solutions and opportunities for the Australian dairy industry to make the most of our geographic location and to grow our exports into the lucrative Asian market," said Associate Professor Gras.
Australian dairy manufacturers will also benefit from processing innovations that reduce environmental impact, provide new opportunities for water recycling and reduce operating costs and time lost to equipment cleaning.
Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd CEO Dr Lesley MacLeod said the new centre will focus on translating research excellence into industry value.
"This approach will use innovation to help our manufacturers both grow and add value in domestic and export markets," she said.
The University of Queensland Chief Investigator Professor Bhesh Bhandari said food materials, scientists and technologists will work together within the ARC Dairy Innovation Hub.
"This will foster collaboration between two universities in dairy research that can benefit industry", Professor Bhandari said.
Over the five years of funding, the Hub expects to achieve research outcomes to understand the structures of dairy products better and how these contribute to their properties and feel in the mouth.
Researchers working across the three sites will also evaluate new processes to improve dairy manufacturing in Australia.
"These insights will help manufacturers make new products and design processes that can reduce waste and lead to water and energy savings." Associate Professor Gras said.