Is Scotland ready to diversify its dairy range?

With the food and drink industry across the board looking to give consumers the healthier products they’re demanding, could milk with functional benefits be the way forward for the Scottish dairy sector?

About 80% of the milk produced in Scotland is currently sold as milk and cheddar cheese. Currently only 20% becomes butter, milk powder, yoghurt and ice- cream. Scotland’s dairy sector has a well-established premium and value-added dairy range, but how can it ensure that it delivers the healthier products people want?

With Scotland aiming to produce over 1.6 billion litres of milk yearly by 2025. Are there more ways of adding value to milk and offering consumers something new and different?

Health is the new wealth

Consumers are increasingly choosing to live healthier lives. Many food and drink companies are tuned into this and the dairy sector is no different. It too is incorporating health benefits into its product range.

Low-fat or lactose free milk are not the only options the sector has to offer the discerning consumer. Milk, though naturally high in calcium and essential vitamins, is increasingly being enriched with vitamins, proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Milk with functional benefits, and milk products claiming to improve gut health are proving popular, and being target at both the health-conscious consumer and the 65+ markets.

A2 milk

A2 milk, which has been very successful in Australia and New Zealand, is now becoming popular with people in the UK who are lactose-intolerant.

The A2 milk company claims that milk containing only a2 beta casein protein is easier to digest than ordinary milk. Depending on a cow’s breed, cows either produce a1 or a2 beta casein protein, or a combination of both. 

Unlike processed lactose-free milk, A2 milk is a natural product produced from cow breeds containing only a2 casein. A2 Milk still contains lactose, but producers claim that it can be easier to digest, particularly for some consumers with lactose intolerance. 

Fermented milk

As consumers are seeking more naturally processed food and drink, fermented milk products are increasingly being considered by the dairy industry.

Fermented food has become popular because it contains large amounts of probiotics – live bacteria and yeasts that are claimed to improve our digestive health and reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Kefir is a well-known fermented dairy product, but there are more. Lassi is popular in India, Ayran in Turkey, Doogh in the Persian cuisine, Laban in the Middle East and North Africa and Ryazhenka in Russia.

The global popularity of these dairy products shows there’s great scope for innovation in the dairy sector, with plenty of potential for untapped dairy drinks to find a home in the commercial market.

Beyond cow milk

With the increasing influence of North Africa and Middle Eastern cuisine, and the demand for new flavour experiences, what alternatives to cow milk might appeal to the modern consumer?

Camel milk for one. Commonplace in the Middle East, it’s now being entertained by the Australian, US and UK markets.

It’s supposed to taste and look like cow’s milk, but with a slightly salty after taste. It contains high levels of iron, calcium and vitamin C, and also has less fat and cholesterol than regular cow milk. Camel milk is also said to contain a lower percentage of lactose, meaning it might be easier to digest for those who are lactose intolerance.

Available as milk, freeze-dried milk powder, cheese, ghee, yoghurts, camel-ccinos, chocolate and ice cream - camel milk has great potential for a prolonged supermarket shelf-life

Growth opportunities

How the global dairy market is performing has great relevancy when looking to the future of the Scottish dairy industry.

Inspiration for innovation opportunities can be learned from all corners of the earth, especially from the Middle East and Africa. Consumers want to experience something unique and different, but something that is healthy, opening up all sorts of opportunities for the Scottish dairy industry in the future.

If you're interested in opportunities in the produce and health sector, or another part of the food and drink sector, our innovation team can help you realise your company's potential.  

Innovation support for Scottish food and drink companies

Make Innovation Happen is a single source of innovation support for businesses involved in the Scottish food and drink supply chain.

Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise work in partnership across academia, the public sector and the industry to deliver a comprehensive innovation support service.

Make Innovation Happen can help your business by providing:

  • Access to 'connectors', who can offer support, advice and mentoring, as well as direction to appropriate support
  • Ideas and insights on how to innovate through articles and events
  • Funding through the Collaborative Innovation Fund
  • Help to access other innovation services provided by Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Interface and others

Looking for innovation support?

Make Innovation Happen 'connectors' will help you tap in to an array of available support and guide you all the way through your innovation journey.