7 January 2000

Protein standardisation near

HISTORICALLY dairies have been split into liquid milk processors and milk solids processors, but that could all change when protein standardisation is legalised.

This would be good news for Jersey producers, but many need to take more care over milk handling, said South Yorks-based processor Jim Dickinson.

"The technology to standardise protein in milk is available and permitted outside the EU for skim milk powder and canned milks. Within the EU, milk fat standardisation is legal but milk protein standardisation is not. However, it is likely to be legalised in a few years.

"When milk protein standardisation is permitted, high protein milks such as Jersey milk will be more valuable because some protein can be extracted for use in milk products." Being able to extract protein for manufacturing is likely to mean a blurring of the line between liquid and solids processors, predicted Mr Dickinson of Longley Farm.

The disappearance of quotas would also lead to greater price differentiation based on milk quality, he said. "Quotas wont be here for a long time. When they end, not everyone will price as they do today. At the moment it pays to stretch production, reduce fat and keep proteins the same or increase them."

Payment strategy

"In our milk payment strategy we will reward high solids milk because we can make savings on haulage and processing. For example, for cream making we require two-thirds the amount of Jersey milk at 6% fat as Holstein milk at 4% fat, reducing haulage costs.

"The bonus will not be a Channel Island bonus, but based on sense such as the value to us in reduced processing costs."

But Mr Dickinson is less keen on Jersey milk fat when it comes to making butter and cream. "Since we began making butter from Jersey milk one or two illusions have been shattered. Fat from Jersey milk is horrendously hard, so making spreadable butter is more difficult."

There is little that producers can do to influence fat hardness, but they do have a role to play in reducing free fat – a particular problem associated with Jersey milk, which reduces cream quality, he says.

"Lipolysis or fat-breakdown is a big issue with cream making. The free fat produced coagulates to butter.

"Vicious pumping systems, bad valves and dead end pipework in parlours can cause lipolysis. Mixing warm and cold milk in bulk tanks without smooth agitation can also have the same effect.

"While we work with producers to overcome these problems, where the problem is severe, milk could become unsaleable," he warned.