Dairy company PURA has announced its milk will no longer contain permeate, a watery by-product of milk processing, as of 1 July 2012.
The company says it made the decision based on research showing that nine out of ten Australians check food labels for additives and preservatives and would select a less-processed option, where available.
PURA says that by no longer adding permeate back to the milk, it has “simplified the milk manufacturing process and delivered milk that is closer to how it is on the farm”.
Of consumers surveyed, 62% who were already aware of permeate inclusion in some brands of milk said they would buy permeate-free milk, if available.
While PURA representative Libby Hay says the decision to stop adding permeate to white milk products was “a natural step in light of the research findings and in response to consumer feedback”, Natasha Bita of The Australian suggested the decision was made to give PURA and Dairy Farmers a “marketing edge” in the supermarket price wars.
Since Coles and Woolworths began selling their own-brand milk for $1 a litre, Bita said, branded milk sales have been falling, but permeate-free a2 Milk had experienced increased sales.
In April, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Maris Beck and Mark Hawthorne reported that leaked National Foods (a subsidiary of Lion) documents revealed its milk products contained up to 16.43% permeate. Another document revealed that adding 16% permeate to 350,000 litres of milk would give a cost saving of up to $22,960.
The SMH story quoted Peter Nathan, the CEO of A2 Milk, who claimed that the supermarket price wars put pressure on producers to increase permeate levels to cut costs.
Recently, Pauls also announced on its website that, although permeate “is not unhealthy or artificial”, many consumers prefer permeate-free milk and its fresh milk products will not contain permeate.