Society of Dairy Technology E-Bulletin
Welcome to the SDT
E-Bulletin for July

Where is this year going to?  July already; the Spring Conference has been and gone, memberships have renewed and Nantwich Show and the Annual Dinner is on its way at the end of the month - next week in fact!  In this bulletin we have reports of the Southern Ireland Section's workshop event on Dairy Competitiveness, our Spring Conference in Reading and information about our new publication, Milk and Dairy Products as Functional Foods.

If you are visiting Nantwich International Dairy Show next week, do call at our stand, stand number 44.  Several of our Council members and Officers will be attending and we look forward to meeting you.

There must be something about being Executive Director of the Society that makes one take on a challenge.  You will recall that, last year, former ED Maurice Walton took part in the Great Northern Swim, across Lake Windermere, well I have signed up to do the "Big Swim" from Port Gaverne to Port Isaac next month.  It's a 1 mile sea swim so wish me luck and if you wish to sponsor me just email.  I don't have a just giving page for this as the swim has its own sponsor list, including Little Harbour Children's Hospice, Cornwall Air Ambulance and Port Isaac RNLI Lifeboat station.  Visit for more information (I am doing the not so serious swim!)

Event reports 

Southern Ireland Section Workshop, Dairy Industry Competitiveness, May 2014
Members and non-members alike gathered recently for a workshop event which had sessions on

  • Milk Processing Sector Model for the Irish Dairy Industry
  • Dairy Product Supply in a post-Quota Era
  • Operational Issues in Milk Processing
  • A review of Milk Market Indicators
Speakers included SDT President, Dr Ken Burgess, Laurence Shallo of Teagasc
All presentations are now available in the members area of the SDT website.

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Laurence Shalloo of Teagasc, addressing the workshop on Dairy Industry Competitiveness held by the S Ireland Section of SDT at Moorepark on Wednesday May 28.
Some of the audience at the "Dairy Industry Competitiveness" workshop held by  S Ireland Section of the SDT in Moorepark on Wednesday 28th May.

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Spring Conference: Innovation in the Dairy Industry
Nearly 70 members attended the recent Spring Conference and over half of these visited the Arla Foods new dairy at Aylesbury.  The visit started with a very generous lunch courtesy of Arla and then we had a fascinating couple of hours at the dairy.  The company have created an excellent viewing gallery which has a lot of interactive displays and their aim is to educate younger people on where their dairy products come from.  We were able to see the production area and intelligent stores (robots moving product around!) and also the bottle manufacture plant alongside.  The guides were brilliant at answering our questions and we all felt that it was a really excellent visit.
On day two, we convened at the University of Reading for the formal part of the conference.The conference was opened by Dr Ad Juriaanse of NIZO, the world renowned independent Dutch dairy and food research institute. He set the scene for the day from the perspective of the global trends and drivers of innovation, and he gave examples from what he saw as the five key areas: feeding the world (especially Asia), responsible nutrition, sustainability and cost, new science and new innovation processes.  For example, responsible nutrition includes bringing new levels of underpinning science to support the ever more important area of health benefits from dairy products, and he described how a detailed analysis of the gut flora can be related back to specific metabolic benefits. In the nutrition area, examples were also given of modifying protein structure to provide high protein “thin drinks” for vulnerable people, and to improving the sensory appeal of low fat/sugar products through restoring flavour release, rebalancing flavour profiles and through modifying serum release to compensate for lower salt levels.

The remainder of Dr Juriaanse’s presentation focussed on three examples of emerging science as drivers of innovation. Miniaturisation of process technologies gives great opportunities for screening a multitude of process parameter options in product and process development and the examples shown of microcheese, microyoghurt and the micro heater can now all be easily scaled up. Food informatics is another exciting area which brings the weight of the information organisation possibilities offered by IT to dramatically reduce development times and provide short lists of compounds important in new product concepts.

Dr John Brody presented a view of dairy product innovation from the perspective of a large US cheese business. Sargento is not as well-known as other US brands here in the UK but it is the second largest US cheese brand behind Kraft, and the largest seller of sliced cheese there.  John set out the background to the difficulties in getting new brands accepted by consumers in the US. The average family gets 80-85% of their needs from only 150 SKU’s, while consumers groups are increasingly fragmented and individual consumers are ever more savvy and sceptical. Against this background, a focussed approach is key and Dr Brody then set out in detail the four step stage gate process that Sargento use to funnel their innovation ideas into successful commercial launches.
Ideas have to pass through the stages of strategy development (opportunity scoping), concept development (leading to a successful concept test), product development (successful product test of the final design) and finally commercial launch. An example was then given of Sargento’s latest new product, a sliced cheese containing only 45 calories per slice which was a 2014 Breakthrough Innovation Award Winner.

Dr John Brody of Sargento addressing the conference

Professor Paul Ross of Teagasc gave some fascinating insights into how the Food Health Ireland initiative was opening up the possibilities for dairy innovation in human health and wellness. A key part of the programme is based around the mechanism of action of probiotics, and a number of platform technologies have been developed to support this: culture curation, genome sequencing, microbial transplantation and bio-IT, using informatics and biomedical research in synergy. These are being used to follow gut microbiota through the human age profile, where over 1,000 species have already been identified as significant contributors.
Work has already demonstrated how gut microbiota correlates with diet and health in vulnerable populations, how microbiota changes are mirrored by changes in health, and even how the diet and training programme of the Irish Rugby Team sets their gut microbiota apart from normal fit adults. Professor Ross finished with some examples of how this work was already manifesting itself in real applications, including bacteriocin producing strains for pathogen inhibition, strains for producing healthy fatty acids, strains which produce neurotransmitters (psychobiotics), and strains producing polysaccharides for cholesterol reduction.

Julian Price of Volac International took the audience through the development of their whey protein based drink, Upbeat, and introduced us to the rationale behind the company’s move into a retail product.  The product breaks away from the traditional use of whey protein simply as a nutrition drink for athletes and has an energy content of under 150 calories which was one of the drivers of the development.  The product was designed as a convenient, low calorie way to “fuel the gap” during the day and the audience had chance to sample the product when it fared well!

Company Innovation Strategy was the theme of the paper presented by Cal Flynn the R & D Manager of the Kerry Group.  We were shown the original development process used by the company and then the newer innovation driven process was discussed.  This comparison between the business unit process and the innovation driven process was fascinating and an honest review of the advantages and disadvantages of both processes was well received.

The direction of the conference changed slightly when Keith Goodby of Tetra Pak presented some of the innovations in the processing side of the industry.  Drivers for these innovations varied from energy costs and sustainability to the ability to process some of the newer products on the market but the main focus of the presentation was on environmental drivers.  Environmental modelling as a tool used by Tetra Pak was described and some of the solutions presented, including environmentally efficient pasteurisation and Tetra therm aseptic flex indirect UHT processing.

The final presentation was on a completely different approach to Innovation, through digital marketing and Theo Izzard-Brown of W+K took us through the Lurpak Cooks’ range marketing process that has fired passion for the product.  The lessons learned as part of this development were highlighted and at the end of the day this was a very inspiring presentation. There was great synergy between this presentation and the earlier presentation by Dr Brody and it was particularly interesting to see these approaches to innovation.
Dr Ken Burgess, President of the Society, concluded the Conference by drawing attention to the massive contribution that informatics and biotechnology, both alone and in combination, were making in offering huge opportunities for not only product innovation but in the processes that industry can use to drive innovation projects more effectively.  He also drew attention to the need for the right culture to be in place for innovation to succeed; one of developing good relationships between the various team members, excellent communication and a culture of challenge and trust that was always looking for ways to do things better.

Some of the audience at the Spring Conference

Publications and discounts

As a Member of the Society of Dairy Technology, you are entitled to a 35% discount on virtually all print books available from our publishing partner, Wiley.  To browse books and start saving visit the SDT Book Series page or Wiley’s Food Science & Technology subject page. 
You can access the discount code via the members page of the Society website.
Our latest publication in the SDT Technical Series has recently been published.  Milk and Dairy Products as Functional Foods, edited by A. Kanikanian, is available from Wiley Ltd and is priced at £130 to non-members and of course members can purchase at the discounted price.

Future events

Put the date in your diary: 12th November is the date of our Autumn Symposium, to be held at Harper Adams University. The topic is Food Safety and further details will be available on the SDT website very soon.
Next year's Spring Conference is to be held in Northern Ireland at Loughry College and further details will be posted soon.

Please send comments, feedback and suggestions for topics to Liz Whitley


Many thanks
Liz Whitley
Executive Director
Tel: 0845 528 0418
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