Nestlé Brazil will transfer its whey production facilities in Porto Ferreira, São Paulo to Cargill, the largest private firm in the US.
In addition to continuing to produce whey at the facility, Cargill "will expand the plant to produce high-added value products."
High margin value-added ingredients are the holy grail for ingredients makers looking to boost the bottom line in an increasingly competitive business climate.
And the double-digit growth that whey derivatives are currently enjoying is incentive enough for ambitious Cargill to delve deeper.
Compared to other dairy ingredients, whey and its various fractions hold some of the most promising value for the food and dairy industries.
With improved methods for extraction and purification, whey fractions can extend product development possibilities with new nutrition and functionality.
Whey is comprised of protein, lactose (milk sugar), minerals (calcium, phosphorus and magnesium) and fat.
Whey protein contains alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin, heavy and light - chain immunoglobulins(Igs), and proteose-peptones.
Traditionally, whey was a by-product with a negative value from cheese production; but in the 1950s the US started to add value to the by-product.
Since this time the ingredient has seen a considerable rise in demand, notably on the back of the sports nutrition and functional food market which uses whey protein concentrates and isolates extensively.
Food, according to analysts 3A Business Consulting, has been the last zone for market penetration of whey derivatives identified by the ingredients firms in both the US and Europe.
In 2002 consumption of the whey products sweet whey, demineralised whey, whey protein concentrates (WPC) and whey protein isolates (WPI), came in at nearly 770,000 tonnes in western Europe alone.
Cargill's Brazilian whey production deal marks the latest move in a seemingly non-stop flow of acquisitions.
In the last month the firm has cleared a deal to buy German industrial chocolate facility Schierstedter Schokoladefabrik, agreed to buy a sunflower seed crushing facility in Ukraine from Ukrainian consumer food company Chumak, and purchased Citrico, the number three global spot for supplies of pectin extracted and blended from citrus peel.