Optimising the flavour profile and longevity of milk powders


Fonterra is a global leader in the dairy industry, producing 1.5-1.6 million MT of milk powders annually. We are committed to providing high quality and nutritious dairy to countries all around the world. Maintaining the quality of our milk powder for the shelf life requested by the market has led to some challenges. Our aim is to optimise the flavour profile of our milk powders over their shelf life.

Accelerated storage trials are commonly used to assess shelf life and potential spoilage issues in many foods. Temperature is used as an accelerant in many of these trials. Accelerated storage trials for milk powders are complicated by the fact that temperature contributes to the chemical reactions causing oxidation and is a catalyst of the Maillard reaction which often overtakes more subtle flavours that appear as part of the aging process.

Fonterra has Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) instruments that have the ability to measure very minute levels of a wide range of volatile compounds in the powder. It is now feasible to develop a chemical signature for milk powder to identify the presence of particular compounds. The data from determining this chemical signature at the time of manufacture and after two months of storage could then be used to inform mathematical models to predict the flavour profile over time. We also have some storage data which could be used in model validation.

A related challenge in the milk powder business involves the approval of new plant alignment for sensory sensitive customers. Can our SIFT-MS be used to characterize the sensory profile on the date of manufacture to capture the requirements of these customers? Can we use SIFT-MS data to model the differences in the sensory profile for powders manufactured in different plants and standardised with different ingredients?

Industry Representatives: Lisa Hall, Ralph Peters, Roger Kissling and Grant Abernethy

Our problem

The problem for MINZ involves employing mathematics and statistics to assess the sensory shelf life of our milk powders, with an emphasis on whole milk powder (WMP). We are interested in the following:

  • Modelling the key chemical reactions that produce chemical compounds that lead to unwanted sensory attributes in milk powder
  • Estimating the reaction constants for these key chemical reactions for a range of storage temperatures
  • Quantifying the ideal sensory profile of milk powder at time of manufacture to minimise the risk of undesirable chemical reactions occurring
  • Using the chemical signature at two months to predict the flavour profile over the 24 month shelf life
  • We look forward to seeing you at MINZ 2017 as we work to optimise our milk powder business.