Industry Terms

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Posted in Milk
on September 26, 2013
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Marketing is a huge area in any industry, and the Australian Dairy Industry is no different. The major players spend a lot of time and money to create their point of difference and increase sales. From the ‘Milk Price Wars’ between Woolworths and Coles that saw the milk price drop nationally, to the ‘Permeate Free’ labels that have popped up recently; there are a lot of different industry terms that float around and this can sometimes confuse things.

I thought I would put together a little bit of information to help clear the way…..

  • Homogenisation

Homogenisation is the forcing the milk under extreme pressure through tiny holes. This breaks up the normally large fat particles into tiny ones and forces the fat to form tiny molecular clusters, ensuring the molecules don’t regroup to form a cream layer on the top. This affects the way the fats are digested and makes it harder for humans to break down these natural fats.
Homogenisation began as early as 1932 but started becoming common practice in Australia in the 1970s. The reasoning behind it was to create a standardised product that had slightly increased shelf life. Once homogenised and bottled it also allowed the milk to travel better – even with the shaking and vibrations in the back of the truck, milk would arrive looking the same as when it left the factory.
Most milk in Australia is still homogenised today, it has become the ‘norm’ and most people haven’t tried non homogenised milk, however there is a definite awareness and shift towards having milk in its more natural state.

  • Permeate Free

Permeates refers to the left over ‘by-product’ of whole milk that has had the fat and proteins filtered out to be used as other dairy products like cream & cheese. It is composed of milk sugar (lactose), vitamins and minerals. Milk permeates are then added to whole milk to standardise the nutritional value. So using milk permeates helps manufacturers to ensure the milk has the same taste and nutritional composition all year round. Permeates are not harmful nor are they any more beneficial. However it has become a point of difference for companies to proclaim to be ‘Permeate Free’.

  • A2 Milk

‘A2’ isn’t a process; it refers to the natural variations of proteins found in cows’ milk. These beta-casein proteins are labelled either A1 or A2. Some cow breeds are naturally more likely to have A2 proteins; in Australia Guernseys have the highest percentage, followed by Jerseys, followed by Holsteins. So in a herd of dairy cows, there will be a mix of A1 and A2 cows. To find out which type a cow is, you test them with a simple tail hair sample sent to a laboratory. Much like human blood type, the protein type is passed on genetically. If you mate an A2 cow with an A2 bull you increase you chance of having A2 offspring. So, you can increase the number of A2 cows in a herd by testing them and the use of controlled breeding programmes. Now…..why is A2 desirable? There is new research being done all the time in regards to why A2 proteins are better for human health. There are various studies that suggest A1 proteins can contribute to things like heart disease and diabetes, but seeing as I’m not a scientist or researcher, I am not going getting into the argument on what milk is better. What I WILL say is that A2 proteins were the original milk protein and A1 are a mutated version of that protein. Because we milk such a small number of cows, we feel it is beneficial to try to increase the number of A2 cows in our herd, which we are doing by selective testing. Although our milk is not exclusively A2 we ARE working towards this.

  • Skim Milk/Reduced Fat Milk

Pretty self explanatory, removing the milk solids to lower the fat content in milk. Unfortunately also removes a lot of other beneficial vitamins and minerals including most of the Vitamin A.

  • Powdered/Condensed/UHT etc

All of these products have started life as raw milk and been transformed into various things using a various processes. For more information see this helpful run down by Dairy Australia

Here at The Pines, we believe Milk should be Milk; with all the normal variations that come hand in hand with a natural product. We understand the reasons why other companies choose to use these processes and that some consumers prefer a standardised product that tastes/smells/looks the same every single time they buy it; but we prefer to let our Milk speak for itself. We don’t label it as anything other than ‘100% Pasteurised Cows Milk’ – and that’s what you’ll get 100% of the time, nothing added, nothing removed – Just Milk!

‘Till next time..