Dairy processor First Milk has announced a strategic partnership to sell and distribute a key protein ingredient used in the fast-growing sports drink market.
Forecasts suggest the whey protein market as a whole could be worth more than £12bn by 2022 as demand for health food and fitness products continues to grow.
Whey protein concentrate 80 (WPC80) is an 80% soluble form of the dairy derived protein, making it ideal as an ingredient in these products.
First Milk’s move to strengthen its position in the market is based on a buyout of shares in a specialist WPC manufacturing plant in the Lake District.
The Lake District Creamery is already part-owned by First Milk under a joint venture with the New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra.
Under the buyout agreement First Milk will acquire Fonterra’s 51% stake, making it the sole owner from July 2019.
The dairy processor will also strengthen ties with Havero Hoogwegt, a global WPC specialist that already supplies more than 50 countries worldwide.
Havero is part of the Hoogwegt group, a global dairy ingredients provider and an existing First Milk partner.
First Milk chief executive Shelagh Hancock said: “We are delighted to take over full ownership of our well-invested whey processing facility, the Lake District Creamery, and to confirm our new sales and distribution partnership with Havero Hoogwegt.
“I am confident they are well-placed to maximise the market potential of our WPC80 production for mutual benefit.”
Havero Hoogwegt managing director Freek-Jan van der Puijl added: “We see First Milk as an experienced producer of WPC of consistently high quality and with a good reputation.
“We are proud to enter this partnership, which enables us to further grow and strengthen our global market position, allowing us to create best value for our partners.”