First Milk acquires bigger stake in whey protein market

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.

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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.”