A wide variety of milk ingredients

Milk: a multifunctional ingredient

Milk ingredients offer a variety of features and are sometimes essential to manufactured products.

Nutritional features

Milk ingredients are loaded with essential nutrients (amino acids, minerals, etc.) in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. They are used in various dietary and therapeutic contexts: low-calorie foods, sports nutrition, baby food, etc.


Physical features

Milk ingredients have various physical features that are in great demand in food product manufacturing. In particular, they can act as:

  • Stabilisers and emulsifiers, such as caseins,
  • Texturisers and whiteners, such as milk powder
  • Enable products to brown, such as dry whey (used in biscuits)


Milk processing and milk proteins

Scientific and technological progress

Scientific and technological progress has enhanced the use of milk and milk proteins.

Milk ingredients, valuable for their protein content, make up a wide and varied offering, including milk powders, caseins, caseinates, lactose, whey, etc.

These ingredients derive from complex transformation processes, which all share one step: drying, which turns milk into an easily stored and readily exportable powder.


A variety of milk ingredients

different milk ingredients

Powdered milk manufacturing process

Most milk ingredients are sold dehydrated, with the exception of butter, anhydrous milk fat and creams for manufacturing. All powdered milk ingredients involve concentration, drying and microfluidization.

A variety of milk ingredients for many markets

Milk ingredients are used in many markets, given the large number of possible uses. France’s expertise means that it is often well positioned on these markets.

Milk ingredients

  • Milk powders

    Depending on the type of milk used, drying produces whole milk or skimmed milk powder.

    Skimmed milk powder is used mainly in dairy products containing reconstituted milk (yoghurts, milk-based desserts, ice creams, etc.), chocolate products, baby milk formula and animal food.

    Milk powder is used mainly in chocolate products, breads, buns, pastries and sweets.

    In 2012, France produced nearly 480,000 tonnes of unpackaged industrial milk powder.

    • 66% skimmed milk powder
    • 20% whole milk powder


    Source: S.S.P. annual dairy survey


  • Dried and demineralized whey

    Whey is obtained during cheese manufacturing after coagulation and slicing of the curds. Drying produces a power that can be used in many types of food. Soluble protein and lactose are extracted from this whey powder.

    Dried whey is used mainly in animal feed, whereas soluble whey protein is used in low-calorie/diet products and sport nutrition products.

    There are different types of dried whey, including sweet, acid, demineralized, modified, etc.

    In 2012, France produced more than 605,000 tonnes of dried whey and exported nearly 318,000 tonnes.


    Source: S.S.P. annual dairy survey and Eurostat


  • Lactose

    Lactose is obtained by evaporation after extracting whey protein. Cristallization and crushing produces different grades of lactose for different purposes.

    Lactose is a sugar composed of a galactose molecule and a glucose molecule. Its sweetening power is low (16% that of sucrose).

    Lactose is used to manufacture baby milk, chocolate, sweets, cold meats and reconstituted milk products.

    It also has non-food applications: 25% of the lactose produced in the European Union is used by the pharmaceutical industry.

    In 2012, France produced more than 29,000 tonnes of lactose.


    Source: S.S.P. annual dairy survey and France Agrimer


  • Caseins and caseinates

    Milk contains two types of protein: soluble or “serum” protein (present in whey) and coagulable caseins (80% of milk protein).

    This category includes three types of products:

    • Rennet casein: obtained by coagulating rennet
    • Acid casein: obtained by acid precipitation
    • Caseinates: obtained by the addition of salts (calcium, sodium and potassium) from acid caseins

    These products are used in many sectors: for processed cheeses, reconstituted milk products, cold meats, coffee creamers, low-calorie products, cheeses and cheese substitutes for pizzas, etc.

    Non-food uses include glues and coatings, for example.

    The main European producers are France and Ireland, which are also major exporters.

    In 2012, France produced 37,000 tonnes of caseins (73%) and caseinates (27%) and exported more than 34,000 tonnes.

    Source: S.S.P. annual dairy survey, Eurostat and France AgriMer


  • WPCs and WPIs

    Whey protein concentrates (WPCs) are high-protein products (35% protein), obtained by whey ultrafiltration.

    Whey protein isolates (WPIs) are products containing 80% protein, obtained by concentrating and purifying WPCs.

    These ingredients are used in reconstituted milk products, low-calorie foods, sports nutrition, etc.

    Extraction enables the soluble proteins in whey (WPIs and WPCs) to be put to best use. Further differentiated protein fractions can be isolated, such as immunoglobulins, lactoferrins, alpha-lactalbumins, beta-lactoglobulins, etc. At the same time, products are obtained that are low in protein but high in lactose (e.g., whey permeates).

    Global and European demand for WPCs and WPIs is currently strong.


  • MPCs and MPIs

    Milk protein concentrates (MPCs) are skimmed milk concentrates containing at least 40% milk protein, both casein and soluble protein. MPCs are obtained by ultrafiltering milk.

    Milk protein isolates (MPIs) are concentrates containing more than 80% protein. They are obtained by microfiltering milk.

    These concentrates are mainly used to manufacture fresh dairy products, processed cheeses, coffee creamers, sports nutrition products, health foods, pastries, and so on.

    MPCs can also be used in cheese or added to milk to increase protein content and improve yield.


Baby formula: an exception

The term “milk” is usually only authorized for products made entirely from cow’s milk protein, but the protein content of “baby milk powder” as it is known in France (“poudre de lait infantile”) varies between manufacturers and for different aged babies.

France is Europe’s largest producer of baby formula, followed by Germany.

It is also a major exporter, exporting more than 134,000 tonnes in 2013. This figure has been steadily rising for five years.

In 2013, 69% of French exports of baby formula are to countries outside Europe. Strong demand for China, in particular is one of the main drivers of this growth.


Average ingredients in baby formula
ingredients in baby formula


Source: France AgriMer

Functional features of milk ingredients

All milk ingredients have functional features that are in great demand for developing more complex products.

Chocolate products

Some drying processes for whole-milk powder (“Hatmaker” drying, which is now rarely used in manufacturing) produce a caramelized flavour that is very popular with chocolate or pastry manufacturers.


Baked goods and pastries

Lactose enables products to brown through caramelization (or as a precursor to the Maillard reaction).

Whey protein concentrates are used in croissants and brioches, for example, to soften and form the pastry.

Buns and brioches


Reconstituted milk products

Whey protein concentrates (WPCs) and whey protein isolates (WPIs) are used as gelling agents in dairy product manufacturing.

Processed cheeses

Caseins give runniness to processed cheese; e.g., for use on pizzas.

Cold meats

  • Dry sausage: lactose brings dryness and can be fermented.
  • Cooked ham: lactose is used for its emulsifying and water-retaining properties.
  • Pâté: milk powder binds the different ingredients.
  • Mousses: milk powder acts as an emulsifier.


Skimmed milk powder is a popular texturizer and whitener for manufactured sauces.

Caseins act as stabilizers and emulsifiers in sauces.

Ice creams and sorbets