Longer-Life Fridge-Stable Milk Could be a “Game Changer” for Australian Exports

Fresh milk could soon have a longer shelf life, after food tech company Naturo, a subsidiary of The Wholey Milk Co, was given a $1 million grant to continue the development of innovative new pasteurisation technology.

The federal government grant will be used to build a pilot manufacturing plant capable of processing milk to become fridge stable for 60 days. The patented process, known as Haelen, is able to remove undesirable bacteria while creating a longer fridge-stable product.

According to The Wholey Milk Co’s CEO Jeff Hastings, milk processed through the Haelen process is also much closer to the original product than traditionally pasteurised milk.

“Put simply, our technology kills more of the bugs and has a superior shelf life,” he said.

“Our patented process is the only known method that kills Bacillus cereus, a common but unwanted spore forming bacterium in milk that produces toxins causing vomiting or diarrhoea.”

Current pasteurisation methods heat milk to 72 degrees Celcius for a minimum of 15 seconds, a process with both benefits and draw backs. In addition to eliminating the organisms responsible for diseases such as typhoid, diphtheria and Q fever, pasteurisation also removes alkaline phosphatase activity, “an essential enzyme for liver function and bone development,” according to Hastings.

“Our milk tastes like milk straight from the cow. It is safer, better for you and lasts longer. The primary difference between our milk and pasteurised milk is the fact that we don’t ‘cook’ the milk to make it safe for human consumption. It is much closer to milk in its original state and independently proven to be nutritionally superior”.

Milking the Export Potential

Commercialisation of Haelen could signal an exciting export proposition for The Wholey Milk Company as a longer fridge life offers the ability to be shipped to countries such as Japan, China and Malaysia.

As the diet of many Asian countries transitions from a grain base to a protein base, the potential for such products is significant.

“The key advantage is our shelf life which means we can sea-freight the product into broader Asia, including China or in fact anywhere in the world,” said Mr Hastings.

“There is also a greater portion of the younger generation that have possibly been educated offshore, who have travelled the world and are very familiar with the western diet and a key part of that is their appetite for protein including meats, milk and other dairy products”.

While Naturo is a Queensland based company, Mr Hastings said that it was likely that the pilot facility would be built in Tasmania.

“In terms of our commercial operations, the pilot factory will produce about 10 million litres of milk per year which will be manufactured into a range of products that is yet to be determined but could also include milk, cheese, gelato, ice cream and specialty milks”.

In 2020, Dairy Food Safety Victoria reviewed the technology, concluding that the process “could be used as an alternative treatment to the pastuerisation for raw milk”.

Sources: Food & Drink Business, Food & Drink Business
Image: “Model of a pasteuriser @ 100 innovationer @ Tekniska Museet” by pellesten is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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