Currently ingredients derived from milk tend not to be included in such programmes – including the United Nation’s World Food Programme – because of concerns over their cost.
But Arla is funding research into the benefits of whey protein and permeate to show that dairy ingredients are an affordable and superior option because they are so nutritionally dense.
Smaller quantities of dairy derivatives could be used compared with alternatives such as vegetable proteins, it says. In addition, dairy ingredients such as whey and permeate can be blended with proteins from other sources to create food aid products that offer all-round nutrition.
Arla says a collective dairy industry effort is required to show that dairy ingredients can be an economical option, because for ingredients to be approved by emergency food programmes they must be available worldwide.
Affordable high quality products
Henrik Jørgen Andersen, senior R&D manager at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “Even though we are an international business, we don’t operate in every region that benefits from aid initiatives like the World Food Programme. The global dairy ingredients industry must stand together to make sure we can deliver affordable high quality products in every geography touched by these programmes.”
He told FoodNavigator that the US Dairy Export Council and Arla Foods Ingredients are currently identifying and making available resources that can be used by impartial stakeholders to conduct clinical trial in regions with, for example, moderate malnutrition.
He explained that the World Food Programme, and similar initiatives around the globe, purchase the ingredients needed to produce the required food aid products on commercial terms. They use those ingredients that are recommended by WHO/FAO, as long as they meet set standards of quality.
Thus, depending on global availability, the quality of the ingredients, the location of production facilities, and the region where the food aid is needed, these organisations identify their suppliers based on the price and quality of the ingredients.
Andersen said Arla would like to see all the major dairy ingredients players become involved, both in the initial phase and at the point when the products are required by the aid agencies.
Arla’s vision for the initial collaboration between dairy ingredient producers and organisations would be to begin additional clinical trials in vulnerable locations around the globe to prove the dairy industry’s case to official bodies, including the World Health Organisation and the World Food Programme, he said.
He said: “This collaboration does not need to be co-ordinated centrally, but merely substantial enough so that it can take place in many vulnerable regions around the globe and can then be communicated by the individual companies.”
Whey protein and permeate
He added: “We see potential for both existing products like whey protein and permeate, but also other side-streams which today are simply used in feed because their quality has not yet been established.”
He said the potential for additional public funding was available in the initial phase and until the point when this market reaches normal commercial terms.
The challenge was huge, and of great political interest, reflected in the recent voluntary Framework for Action announced by the FAO on October 12, in which countries agreed on key policy commitments to fight malnutrition globally, he said.