Gateway to dairy production and products

Types and characteristics

Milk processors produce a wide range of milk products:

  • Liquid milk is the most consumed, processed and marketed dairy product. Liquid milk includes products such as pasteurized milk, skimmed milk, standardized milk, reconstituted milk, ultra-high-temperature (UHT) milk and fortified milk. Worldwide, less and less liquid milk is consumed in its raw form.
  • Fermented milks are commonly used to make other milk products. They are obtained from the fermentation of milk using suitable microorganisms to reach a desired level of acidity. Fermented products include yoghurt, koumiss, dahi, labneh, ergo, tarag, kurut and kefir.
  • Cheeses are produced through the coagulation of milk protein (casein), which is separated from the milk’s whey. Hundreds of varieties of cheese are produced, many of them being characteristic to a particular region of the globe. However, most cheese is produced in developed countries. Cheese can be soft, hard, semi-hard, hard ripened or unripened. Cheese’s diverse characteristics derive from differences in the compositions and types of milk, processes applied and microorganisms used. Traditional cheeses produced in developing countries include ayib, gibna bayda, chanco, queso fresco, akawieh and chhurpi.
  • Butter and ghee are fatty milk products. Butter is produced by churning milk or cream; in many developing countries, traditional butter is obtained by churning sour whole milk. Ghee is obtained by removing the water from butter and is especially popular in South Asia. Ghee has a very long shelf-life of up to two years.
  • Condensed milk is obtained from the partial removal of water from whole or skimmed milk. Processing includes heat-treating and concentration. Condensed milk can be sweetened or unsweetened, but most is sweetened. In Latin America, for example, condensed milk is often used in cooking and baking instead of jam.
  • Evaporated milks result from the partial removal of water from whole or skimmed milk. Processing includes heat-treating to make the milk bacteriologically safe and stable. Evaporated milks are generally mixed with other foods, such as in milky tea.
  • Dry milk or milk powder is obtained from the dehydration of milk and is usually in the form of powder or granules.
  • Cream is the part of milk that is comparatively rich in milk fat; it is extracted by skimming or centrifuging the milk. Cream products include recombined cream, reconstituted cream, prepared creams, pre-packaged liquid cream, whipping cream, cream packed under pressure, whipped cream, fermented cream and acidified cream.
  • Whey products: According to FAOSTAT, whey is “the liquid part of the milk that remains after the separation of curd in cheese making. Its main food use is in the preparation of whey cheese, whey drinks and fermented whey drinks. The main industrial uses are in the manufacture of lactose, whey paste and dried whey.” Whey can be sweet (from the production of rennet-coagulated cheeses) or acid (from the production of acid-coagulated cheeses).
  • Casein is the principal protein in milk and is used as an ingredient in several products, including cheese, bakery products, paints and glues. It is extracted from skimmed milk by precipitation with rennet or by harmless lactic acid-producing bacteria.

Did you know?

  • In 2019, India produced 39 percent of the world’s butter and ghee.