A South Australian factory has expanded beyond milk and cheese into a new, valuable dairy product.
The Beston Foods' factory at Jervois, near Murray Bridge, will produce lactoferrin, a key ingredient in baby formula, worth up to $2500 per kilogram in its powdered form.
The company said it mimicked the bioactive properties of breast milk, aiding iron absorbtion and helping the digestive system function better.
It is also used in dietary supplements, respiratory medications, cosmetics and oral hygiene products as well as other dairy foods.
The Jervois plant, already famous for its mozzarella, began producing commercial quantities of lactoferrin late last year using a process called dairy protein fractionation.
Proteins are extracted from whey, itself a by-product of the cheesemaking process.
The addition of freeze drying and milling equipment soon after that allowed the company to start outputting the lactoferrin as a finished powder, instead of sending it interstate to be processed.
Finally, Beston cleared one more hurdle on January 30, when it received the government accreditation necessary to export the powdered product.
The result, said Beston Global Food Company chief executive Jonathan Hicks, was that a dairy product from the Murraylands was now feeding a highly valuable global market.
"We now have the ability to extract substantial value from the by-products of our cheese manufacturing activities and be a significant player in the global dairy nutraceuticals industry," he said.
"At the time when (Beston) acquired the dairy protein fractionation plant in 2015, high-grade milled lactoferrin product was selling for around $200 to $250 per kilogram.
"It is now fetching up to eight to 10 times that price on global markets.”
The company has already signed contracts for the sale of its entire output of lactoferrin.
The company expected it would increase the number of workers it employed as it increased its production.