At Jervois, this company is turning a milk byproduct into ‘pink gold’
The Beston Global Food Company has become South Australia’s biggest dairy processor, thanks in part to its focus on a valuable nutraceutical product: lactoferrin.
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Every day, 400,000 litres of milk – enough to fill 10 B-double trucks – arrives at the dairy factory at Jervois.
The raw milk is pumped through resin-coated pipes, to which a particular protein sticks.
A complex process of filtration and purification allows the Beston Global Food Company to extract about 50 kilograms of that protein – a pink powder called lactoferrin – from all that milk.
At a value of $1000/kg, the effort is well worth it.
Visitors were treated to a tour of the factory on Wednesday after Premier Peter Malinauskas visited to officially open the lactoferrin plant, more than a year after it began operating.
About five per cent of the global supply of lactoferrin now came from the factory at Jervois, Beston chairman Roger Sexton said.
Thirty “highly technical” jobs were created as a result of the expansion, and more were likely to follow in future.
“When Stephen Gerlach and I founded it back in 2012, we said that our efforts in building the company wouldn’t be about going back to the past and simply producing dairy food products like cheese, butter and cream,” he said.
“They’re all very important, of course; but we said that our efforts would be focused on going to the future by exploiting the goodness of milk and realising its true value.
“Today that’s precisely what we’re doing.”
At a time when globalisation was forcing companies around the world to compete against one another, Beston’s success said a lot about the value of innovation, Mr Malinauskas said.
“The only way we can … continue to see an improvement in people’s standard of living is through productivity, through advancement, through the sort of innovation that we see taking place here,” he said.
“We take a product that we produce extremely efficiently and well … and we extract every single ounce of value that we can possibly get.”
The dairy factory was originally established by the Cheso family and other members of the Jervois Co-op in 1939.
It has since changed hands four times, most recently with its sale to Beston – along with a factory in Murray Bridge – in 2015.
Beston now purchases about a third of all the milk produced in South Australia.
The state government invested $2 million in the $9.5 million lactoferrin project.
Lactoferrin is an ingredient in infant formula, among other products.
Disclosure: The author was among the guests of the Beston Global Food Company at a casual lunch which followed the opening – pizza, topped with mozzarella produced at the factory.