Westby Cooperative Creamery invests $1 million to transform pesky leftovers into useful products

The equipment allows the creamery to transform the filtered material into a more desirable form, providing products for a wider customer base. (Westby Cooperative Creamery photo)

WESTBY, Wis. (WKBT) — The Westby Cooperative Creamery has invested $1 million in machinery to solve the problem of disposing of acid whey and develop it into marketable products.

‘The only cottage cheese manufacturer in Wisconsin “takes great pride in turning it into something that’s both good for you and good for the environment,” said an announcement Monday from the cooperative, which expects to process 6.9 million gallons of whey this year.

The demand for Westby cottage cheese has escalated over the years, which has increased production of acid whey as its byproduct, said Pete Kondrup, the creamery’s general manager.

About14% of the skim milk in making cottage cheese, and the resit is acid whey. Before March 2020, the creamery was able to sell all of the acid whey, but the market has made the disposal difficult, he said.

The creamery invested $1 million to install equipment that will filter out the protein, solids and water, Kondrup said.

The equipment allows the creamery to sell the filtered material in a more desirable form to a wider customer base.

“The whey is turned into two usable products – permeate as animal feed and protein, which gets sold and is often used as an ingredient in nutritional supplements,” Kondrup said.

The creamery, which has a cheese store at 206 S. Main St. in Westby, intends eventually to re-use the water consumed from filtering acid whey, he said.

“As a dairy cooperative with over 145 small family farms that make their living off the land, we have a responsibility to actively research and invest in practices that help better our environment and the communities we live in,” Kondrup said.

“Turning acid whey into a usable product is one way we can do this,” he said.

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