Possibilities of Whey Utilisation

Review Article

Austin J Nutri Food Sci. 2014;2(7): 1036.

Possibilities of Whey Utilisation

Rajka Božanic,Irena Barukcic*, Katarina Lisak, Jakopovic and Ljubica Tratnik

Department of Food Engineering, University of Zagreb, Croatia

*Corresponding author: :Irena Barukcic, Laboratory of Milk Technology and Dairy Products, Department of Food Engineering, Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb, Pierottijeva 6, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia

Received: February 03, 2014; Accepted: July 21, 2014; Published: July 25, 2014


Over the past decades, many researchers have studied the economical possibilities of whey utilisation, primarily how to unwanted by-product converted into a valuable raw material. This paper gives an overview of whey utilisation possibilities. Traditionally, whey (sweet and acidic) is usually dried into powder; however, considering other processing options to improve the economic value such by-product, whey could be utilised, for example, in fermentation, production of soft drinks, production of Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and whey protein isolate (WPI), fractionation of certain protein components, such as isolation and purification α-lactalbumin (α-la) including specific peptides, and production lactose, lactic acid and bioethanol. This review provides most recent developments.

Keywords: Whey powder; Whey protein concentrate; Whey protein isolate; Lactose; Lactic acid; Bioethanol


Whey is a by-product of cheese making (~96%) or a casein (~6%) production. Based on the casein coagulation method, acidic (acid action) or sweet whey (enzyme action) is produced. In general, from 100 L of milk utilised during the cheese manufacture, approximately 80-90 L of whey is produced. Depending on the variety of the cheese produced (e.g. hard or semi-hard), the average yield is 1 kg from 10 L of milk, where the balance (9 L) is whey. Hence, it is evident that daily production of whey can amount up to several millions of litres in large cheese plants. The world whey production is over 160 million tons per year (estimated as 9-fold of the cheese production), showing a 1-2% annual growth rate [1] (Figure 1). About 70% of whey is processed into different products, and about 30% of whey is still being utilized for pig feeding, spread on agricultural land as fertilizer or even dumped into the rivers or the sea [2]. Whey is being considered one of the most polluting food by/co-product streams since it has a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) >35,000 ppm and the chemical oxygen demand (COD) >60,000 ppm) [3]. Tunick [4] estimated that 4000 L of whey could cause high environmental damage equivalent to that caused by faecal waste produced by 1900 humans.