Research hub to boost dairy product innovation

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The Dairy Innovation Hub will lead to longer-lasting dairy products.

Longer-lasting Australian dairy products with high nutritional value will soon be available in Australia and overseas, thanks to a major industrial research initiative.

The University of Queensland (UQ), together with The University of Melbourne, the Australian Research Council and Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd, has formed a Dairy Innovation Hub to help manufacturers develop new products to meet increasing local and international demand.

UQ Chief Investigator Professor Bhesh Bhandari said such  products could include butter and dairy blends that tasted better and were easy to spread,  lactose-free and reduced-fat long-life milks that “taste like real milk”, yoghurt that retains its texture for longer without “watering off” in the fridge, and a range of more consistent, natural cheese flavours and textures.

He said the Australian Research Council Dairy Innovation Hub would bring food materials specialists, scientists and technologists together in a collaboration between two universities that would benefit industry.

He said the hub would work to improve knowledge about the structures of dairy products and how these contribute to their properties and feel in the mouth. 

Hub Director Associate Professor Sally Gras of The University of Melbourne said the initiative brought together three of Australia’s leading dairy research groups in a five-year, $13 million Industrial Transformation Research Program.

“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 said.

“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.”

Associate Professor Gras said Australian dairy manufacturers would 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 would 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,” Dr MacLeod said.

Researchers working across three sites will 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.

Media:  Bhesh Bhandari, 0401297947, b.bhandari@uq.edu.au, or Julie Baglot, 0411 162 577, j.baglot@uq.edu.au.

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