New grant to pave the way for valuable dairy industry research

Priya Agarwal
Professor Cordelia Selomulya, Adrian Freckleton, Dr Roya Khalil, and Yong Wang

The Australian dairy industry is set to reap significant benefits from a new research partnership with China, thanks to a million dollar grant from the Australia-China Science  and Research Fund (ACSRF).

The newly established Monash Joint Research Centre in Future Dairy Manufacturing will focus on seeking engineering solutions to practical problems in the dairy manufacturing sector. Research directions include the development of innovative, high-value dairy products such as probiotics and protein  enriched  products,  as  well as improving efficiencies in the industry. The centre will also promote links between Australian dairy product manufacturers and the large distribution network in China.

Professor Cordelia Selomulya from Monash University’s Department of Chemical Engineering will direct the Centre, which brings together the strongest dairy research teams in the Asia Pacific region.

“We will be working on a range of really exciting projects which will increase the Australian dairy industry’s capacity for export earnings, while also optimising production processes,” Professor Selomulya said.

One of Professor Selomulya’s areas of research involves improving the spray-drying processes for milk powder, which could prevent the loss of several tonnes of product per hour.

Professor Selomulya stated that the centre’s research will enable the Australian dairy industry to go beyond the traditional production of cheese, butter and skim milk powder to the large-scale manufacture of products such as infant formula, which are in high demand in China.

The other partners involved in the initiative include Soochow University, COFCO NHR and Mengniu Dairy in China, along with Bega Cheese, Devondale Murray Goulburn, Fonterra, the Food Innovation Centre, the University of Queensland and the Gardiner Foundation in Australia.

Dr Roya Khalil, the New Product Development Manager at Bega Cheese, spoke about the potential of the partnership to facilitate strategic research and development, with a strong focus on the preferences of Chinese consumers.

“The joint research centre provides an opportunity to create a strategic partnership between the Australian and Chinese dairy industry, for a sustainable and long term commercial relationship. Bega Cheese Limited foresees that this collaboration will assist with increasing export volumes, thereby  supporting  Australian  employment  opportunities in regional dairy communities,” Dr Khalil said.

Demand is increasing in China for consumer-ready dairy products, and with the recent signing of the free trade agreement, the Australian dairy industry is well-positioned to grow its current share of the market.

The ACSRF supports strategic science, technology and innovation collaboration of mutual benefit to Australia and China. The Monash Joint Research Centre in Future Dairy Manufacturing is one of six funded nationally in 2016.