Serum Italia, a subsidiary of the VanDrie Group in Italy, produces whey protein concentrates (WPC) and other whey derivatives for sports foods and ingredients for dairy products and food manufacturers. Bert van den Burg, commercial manager at Serum Italia, talks about the value of whey, a residual waste flow from cheese production.
“Northern Italy is known for its luxury cheeses like Grana padano or Parmigiano Reggiano. These are valuable products in the economic sense of the word, because as a result of producing them, the Italian cheese makers achieve high valorisation of the milk. For a long time, less attention was paid because of that to the value of a residual waste flow, the liquid whey. In Italy, this was mainly used to feed the pigs. A missed opportunity, as the whey contains valuable components. By drying it, you can concentrate it into a product that consists of a minimum of 80% proteins.
In 2018, the VanDrie Group decided to capitalise on this opportunity with the takeover of Serum Italy. In order to manufacture products for human consumption, stricter requirements apply, in fields such as hygiene, safety and quality, for example. This also meant we needed to change our way of thinking, because we were faced with a different market: our future customers were producers of dairy and sports food. They have different needs to those of livestock feed manufacturers.”
Its only when you properly understand the needs of the customer, as well as your own product, that you can take the next step in teh value chain. - Bert van den Burg
By entering the food market, the VanDrie Group has taken a step forward with Serum Italia in the value chain. The bar is higher for us now, but as a result of that, the value being obtained from whey is higher too. We process about 60,000 tonnes of liquid whey every year. I see enough opportunities to add more value there. For example, there are even more potential customers in the foodstuffs industry and many whey products are used for medical food, children’s food and baby food, As whey protein is very similar to breast milk in terms of amino acid composition. The VanDrie Group will continue investing in the processing of liquid whey into powdery products with broad application in the food industry. For example, we are not only looking for ways to create value, but we are simultaneously combating the waste of valuable nutritional raw materials.''