Synlait Milk’s catchcry is ‘Doing Milk Differently For A Healthier World’ and R&D is critical to realising the potential of that mission.
The pioneering milk nutrition company’s R&D journey started in 2018 with one staff member based on campus at FoodPilot at Massey University. Today 18 technologists, technicians and support staff make up the R&D team. The team is 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.
With a clear focus on innovation, Synlait invested in a Tetra Pak-built UHT pilot plant in late 2018 which is located within FoodPilot and can be used for teaching, learning, academic or commercial research alongside Synlait’s own R&D programme. Their new plant enables higher volume R&D trials, mimicking the processes in place at their manufacturing sites.
Partnering with FoodPilot enabled Synlait to access Massey’s academic expertise, work alongside FoodPilot’s skilled technologists and utilise dairy processing equipment, including liquid thermal treatments (pasteurisation and UHT), spray drying and analytical services covering everything from microbiology to nutrition to imagery.
Synlait also worked with Massey and FoodPilot to recruit and train their own sensory panel led by Massey’s sensory and consumer group, FEAST. 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 – yet another advantage of FoodPilot collaboration.
“We’re doing some really exciting things right now,” Synlait’s Head of New Product Development Kirsty Blair says.
Kirsty’s team were 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. They are also supporting the development of consumer and food service products which are getting a lot of interest from key markets, including China.