Recovery of whey from white cheese for the production of soft drinks

Home|Recovery of whey from white cheese for the production of soft drinks

Lead partner: Jurry Hekking Metaal (NL)

Local partners: : Bylmeti (KSV), Y.E.S (KSV)

Edition: 2018

Country: Kosovo

Project status: Finalized

BPF co-financing: 100 000 €


The discharge of whey from cheesemaking to the environment is a growing environmental problem in Kosovo, where whey treatment does generally not occur. Whey is discharged, thereby causing harm to the environment. Although reliable data are not available, it is estimated that the pollution caused by whey discharges in Kosovo is equivalent to the pollution caused by 100,000-200,000 people. Enforcement of environmental regular by the Ministry of Environment and the local municipalities is strengthened and the enterprises feel more and more pressure.

Nevertheless, whey is an organic product and contains high quantities of proteins, fats and sugars. It can be processed because the economic value of whey products is substantial. Products are Whey Powder, Whey Protein Concentrate or recovered proteins for Ricotta production.

Dairy producers in Kosovo are small, family-type businesses, typically with capacities between 10,000 and 60,000 liters per day (for comparison: milk processors in Western Europe typically have capacities above 500,000 liters per day). These dairy processors face many challenges in quality control, in environmental issues and in marketing and exporting. From 2015, Bylmeti has embarked on a program to upgrade its production, to reduce the environmental impacts and to develop international cooperation. JH Metaal and Y.E.S. are partners of Bylmeti for the development of new projects and innovations.

The project’s overall objective is to develop a production line for the production of drinks on the basis of whey recovered from cheese manufacturing. The project is the first of its kind in Kosovo. The new whey product line will be operated at the facilities of Bylmeti in Pristina.

The key objectives of the project are:

  • Technology: the design, construction & start-up of a new line for whey drinks, including the processing and upgrading of the whey (filtering, sterilizing, bottling etc.) and, possibly, the production of butter as a side product from the skimmed whey.
  • Product: on basis of the previous tests, development of the whey-based drink products, better characterization of the flavours, testing with consumer panels and development of the packing. Laboratory tests
  • Business: to produce an economically viable product line with assessment of the costs of manufacturing, sales chain development and product development costs (R&D). Creation of jobs. Reduction of environmental impact and costs.
  • Management: effective implementation of the project with effective coordination of the project team. Budget control, auditing of costs and revenues. Monitoring of the project’s KPIs and the project’s impact.

The current project is a pilot for Kosovo, which may open up new solutions for this problem. The project is a partnership of partners from Kosovo and the Netherlands. Partners want to develop the production of a new soft drink on basis of the whey from white cheese. The key elements required for the project are:

  • Development of tastes (flavors test panel)
  • Characterization and laboratory tests
  • Processing and upgrading of the whey (filtering, sterilizing, bottling etc.)

Results expected

The relevant impacts, beyond the environmental impact generated through the avoidance of dumping whey into the environment, are (1) a contribution to the Kosovar economy, estimated at 4-5 million € per year (based on direct sales and secondary economic effects), (2) the reduction of the public expenses for a municipal wastewater treatment plant for 10.000 people amounting to 500.000 – 1.500.000 € ; (3) the introduction of a new product for the Kosovar market on basis of EU quality standards and (4) the directly and indirectly created jobs as spin-off from the project.

As a result, a new range of products will be added to the Kosovar dairy sector. Whey-based drinks are known for their positive effects on health. Hence, these products fit into the global trend to healthier consumption behavior.

The project will contribute to the wider goal of sustainable development of Kosovo. The major impacts of the project are found in the improvement of environmental situation, the economic and social development and the strengthening of the competitiveness of the dairy sector of Kosovo.