Milk permeate is a byproduct of dairy processing that has minimal value, but that is changing thanks to an innovative pilot led by Vitalus Nutrition Inc.

“The project evolved thanks to Vitalus’ strategic direction not to let any product leave the plant without some value being added to it,” declares Alistair Johnston, director of operations at Vitalus.

Liquid milk permeate has a high nutritional content, but needs to be dried for manufacturers to use it effectively. Drying permeate is not easy, so it was used as a liquid animal feed or disposed of in city sewage systems.

A pilot plant was developed in 2008 with the goal of transforming dairy permeate to something valuable, while creating a public benefit by reducing the amount of effluent.

Two years later, the finished feed ingredient is undergoing trials by researchers at the University of Alberta. According to preliminary results, piglets are thriving on it.

Effluent outflows into municipal sewers have decreased by 50 per cent, with no dairy permeate being disposed, and the project has facilitated a significant reduction of water consumption. With the pilot completed, Vitalus is now taking this project forward to commercialization.

Funding for this project was provided through former federal adaptation programming (A0538).