foodpilot partnership makes the most of every frop of milk Synlait
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Synlait: Pioneering R&D efforts in the milk industry

This article was published on Aug 16, 2023, 2:23 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Synlait wants to disrupt the milk industry. So, alongside the New Zealand Food Innovation Network, they’re prioritising R&D, ensuring the business is making the most of every drop.

What's in this article

    At a glance

    • Engaging with the New Zealand Food Innovation Network, Synlait has gained access to a range of expertise and skilled technicians and has also allowed them to invest heavily in innovation projects, including a Tetra Pak-built UHT pilot plant.
    • Growing from a team of one to 18, Synlait’s R&D efforts are ensuring the business is continually innovating, including exploring new opportunities and streamlining existing processes.

    Doing milk differently

    ‘Doing Milk Differently For A Healthier World’ - that’s the slogan Synlait Milk lives by as it disrupts the milk industry.

    Formed in 2005, from early on the pioneering milk nutrition company realised how critical R&D would be to realise the potential of that mission.

    A synergy between Synlait & Callaghan Innovation

    The company’s R&D journey started in 2018 when Synlait teamed up with Callaghan Innovation’s New Zealand Food Innovation Network. At this time they had just one staff member based within the FoodPilot hub on Massey University’s campus in Palmerston North.

    With a clear focus on innovation, in late 2018 Synlait invested in a Tetra Pak-built UHT pilot plant, which enables higher volume R&D trials, mimicking the processes in place at their manufacturing sites. Located within FoodPilot, the plant can also be used for teaching, learning, academic or commercial research. 

    Synlait also worked with Massey and FoodPilot to recruit and train their own sensory panel, led by Massey’s sensory and consumer group, Feast. And, with FoodPilot operating under the Risk Management Programme (RMP) as of December 2021, Synlait is able to export their R&D prototypes to overseas markets.

    Overall, partnering with FoodPilot has enabled Synlait to access Massey’s academic expertise, work alongside FoodPilot’s skilled technologists, and utilise dairy processing equipment. This has included liquid thermal treatments (pasteurisation and UHT), spray drying and analytical services covering everything from microbiology to nutrition to imagery.

    A growing team with growing R&D achievements

    Although only starting out with one, Synlait’s R&D team has gone on to become a team of 18, encompassing technologists, technicians and support staff. Together they’re tasked with supporting Synlait to explore new opportunities, streamline existing processes, optimise plant and equipment, and to make the most of every drop of milk.

    Supported by the New Zealand Food Innovation Network, Synlait is constantly innovating. 

    “There’s so much to explore in this industry and this team certainly isn’t short of ideas. But we’re also really proud of some of our achievements to date,” says Kirsty Blair, Synlait’s Head of New Product Development. 

    These achievements include Kirsty’s team being heavily involved in the refinement of Synlait Dunsandel’s Advanced Liquid Dairy Packaging Facility, which supplies private label fresh milk and cream to Foodstuffs South Island. And, they are also supporting the development of consumer and food service products which are getting a lot of interest from key markets, including China.

    A Synlait facility

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