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Dry Milk Ingredients Overview

Dry Milks | Overview

When the majority of moisture is removed from milk, the result is dry milk. Moisture content for dry milk is usually less than 5%. So think of dry milk ingredients as authentic milk products with a greatly extended shelf life. The two most common types of dry milk ingredients are whole milk powder (WMP) and nonfat dry milk (NDM). Advances in processing technology and equipment have resulted in a growing range of tailor-made dry milk ingredients including low-sodium and instantized.

Grade “A” dry milk product must be produced with Grade “A” milk in a Grade “A” plant. All other parameters for Grade “A” products are the same as “Extra Grade.”

Dry Milk Products Standards Introduction

Dry milk product standards promote the production of uniform, high-quality dry milk products. In addition, they serve to protect the manufacturer of superior quality products from competition by inferior products and provide a basis for an effective quality control program. If the fluid milk supply, it’s processing, and the subsequent storage of the finished product are in accordance with acceptable procedures and practices, the dry milk product offered should meet these industry standards. Composition specifications included with these standards will help determine general overall product excellence.

These composition requirements are not designed to meet all end-uses. Consequently, to determine the acceptability of the product for a specific use, special supplementary tests not included in these standards may be necessary. However, buyers who use these standards in their purchases provide themselves with an added safeguard regardless of the particular purpose for which the product may be intended.

Grading Requirements for Nonfat Dry Milk (NDM), Instant Nonfat Dry Milk INDM), Dry Whole Milk (DWM), Dry Buttermilk (DBM) and Dry Buttermilk Product (DBMP) were developed to promote the utilization of these products by making available a uniform grading system for EXTRA GRADE and STANDARD GRADE products. Both manufacturers and purchasers utilize these grading standards for the following reasons:

  • Assure Uniformity: Uniform quality of product is assured by grade specification, accepted and understood throughout the dry milk industry. Dry milk product standards enable both manufacturers and purchasers to specify the grade of product offered for sale or required for use.
  • Facilitate Purchase: Buyers and sellers are afforded a common basis whereby a dry milk product, meeting definite product requirements, is recognized by its grade name. Tests and grades are based on accepted specific analytical procedures, well understood by both parties. In this way, many detailed tests varying between manufacturing and purchasing organizations are eliminated.
  • Reduce Risk: The manufacturer of the dry milk product assumes the responsibility for delivering the grade of product offered. Any element of risk is eliminated from the purchase since the buyer may have each purchase checked by grade analysis. Similarly, the manufacturer is protected against unreasonable complaints because the grade standards are succinct and based upon specific methods of analysis.

The American Dairy Products Institute (ADPI), formed when the Whey Products Institute and the American Dry Milk Institute merged in April, 1986, is the national trade association of the processed dairy products industry, specifically representing the evaporated milk, condensed and dry milk, and whey/whey products segments of the industry. As new dry milk products and improved analytical methods for the testing of all milk products continue to be developed, this publication will be updated to assist in maintaining uniformity within the industry.

Additional Resources

Additional resources including the Dried Dairy Ingredients Handbook and more are available for ADPI members. Click the button to log-in to access these resources.

How to Choose between a Milk or Whey Ingredient

Milk and whey ingredients provide multiple benefits to food products. These benefits are often described as flavor, function, and nutrition. They provide a mild, dairy flavor that blends well with many food products.  Their composition can consist of multiple components such as, proteins (caseins and/or whey proteins), milkfat, lactose, and ash (minerals), and thus provides many different functional properties described in the table below. These components also provide many of the same unique nutritional properties found in milk. 

Milk and whey ingredients are used in a wide variety of food products including dairy products, baked products, confections, soups, sauces, infant formula, processed meats, prepared foods, and beverages. Selecting the right dairy ingredient for your application can be confusing because many milk and whey ingredients have a similar composition, for example nonfat dry milk (NDM) and whey protein concentrate 34 (WPC34). Even though the protein content is about the same, NDM consists of roughly 80% casein and 20% whey protein, while WPC34 is all whey protein. Often the choice is made based on price, but comparing the differences in functionality is probably the most important method of selection.

Solubility in water is the single most important functional property for a milk or whey ingredient. No matter which ingredient you choose, it must be soluble for it to be functional. The solubility of a milk or whey ingredient that contains protein is impacted by the pH of the food. Milk protein ingredients have good solubility above pH 6.0. Whey protein ingredients have good solubility at pH 3-7. Lactose, the main component in the ingredients lactose and milk/whey permeate (dairy products solids) has good solubility below a concentration of 14% in room temperature water, but has lower solubility (will crystallize) at refrigeration temperatures. The solubility of dairy ingredients that are high in calcium (such as milk/whey permeate), decrease with heat treatment and at a pH greater than 5. These are the primary characteristics to help select the right dairy ingredient for your application.

Functional Benefits of Milk & Whey Ingredients

Function Primary Components Benefits
Solubility Protein Provides better performance in all applications
Browning Protein and Lactose Provides color and flavor development
Emulsification Protein-caseins provide stronger emulsification than whey proteins Provides binding and separation of fat globules and texture stability
Heat Stablity Protein-caseins are more heat stable than whey proteins Prevents protein aggregation and settling for properly hydrated ingredients during high heat processing
Gelling & Heat Setting Protein-whey proteins will denature and form gels with heat treatment Provides structure and water holding properties
Water Binding & Viscosity Building Protein-caseins have more water binding ability than whey proteins Improves texture and mouthfeel; Helps to retain moisture and improve shelf life
Whipping & Foaming Protein-whey proteins generally foam more than caseins Provides aerated structure and texture


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