University of Melbourne Magazine

Researchers to give milk a shake

  • 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 help Australian dairy manufacturers to develop new products to meet the increasing local and global demand for high-quality dairy products, particularly in Asia.

    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 (BSc(Hons) 2002, BE(ChemEng)(Hons) 2002), from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, says the initiative brings together three of Australia’s leading dairy research groups in a five-year, $13 million research program co-funded by the Australian Research Council, Dairy Innovation Australia, 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,” she says.

    Dairy Innovation Australia CEO Dr Lesley MacLeod says 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 says.

    Over the five years, researchers 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,” Gras says.