Segments of the dairy market include milk and milk-based products, such as butter, cheese, casein, ice cream, lactose, and yogurt. The production of milk in the United States in 2017 was estimated at 215 billion pounds, a 1.4% increase over the previous year. By one estimate, about 37% of milk produced is consumed as fluid milk and cream, about 32% is converted into various cheeses, about 17% is made into butter, and about 8% is used to make ice cream, yogurt, and other frozen desserts. The remainder is sold as dry milk, canned milk, and other types of milk products. The dairy industry is highly localized because of the perishable nature of dairy products. It is estimated that only 7% of the milk produced in the United States is currently exported. However, technological advancements and innovations for obtaining more milk from dairy animals have both increased production and boosted market growth. One statistic from the U.S. Department of Agriculture proving this point is that in the last ten years, milk production has increased by 13.4% while the number of cows has only gone up by 0.8%. Technological advances for maintaining efficiency and quality of milk products during long-distance export are anticipated to increase market growth. Much attention has been paid to the detection of the quality and safety of liquid foods because of their various raw materials and this is especially true for dairy products because of their perishability. Along with processing techniques like drying, heating, cooling, freezing, and pasteurizing, there is also a need for rapid and cost-effective methods to analyze and classify quality, especially when considering a large amount of variability of dairy products in the market. Moreover, consumer awareness of quality assurance amongst brands is a major factor in consumers’ decisions to purchase dairy products. The implications of poor product quality spreading in today’s social media environment, as well as the financial consequences of a product recall, can be devastating to a company’s bottom line. Traditional methods for analyzing dairy products include wet chemistry methods and sensory analysis. These methods are time-consuming and expensive, especially when applied in an online setting. Developing rapid, non-invasive, cost-effective, and environmentally sound methods for quality testing has become a priority for dairy manufacturers. One such method with potential for both laboratory and industrial testing of dairy products is NIR spectroscopy.

Process Analytical Technology (PAT) & On-Line Measurements

Process Analytical Technology (PAT) is a framework for innovative process manufacturing and quality assurance. Critical points and parameters during manufacturing of a product are defined and the process is designed in a way that such points and parameters can be measured using analytical tools and instruments for real-time process feedback and control. Such instruments must be able to measure online and in a non-invasive manner. Many vendors have developed instruments that are able to measure multiple points in a process with a single instrument, usually using optical fibers and probes. PAT has become an important part of pharmaceutical as well as chemical manufacturing and is beginning to acquire a hold in the food & beverage industry. One such analytical tool with great potential for use in PAT is NIR spectroscopy.

There are significant challenges to implementing PAT in a dairy manufacturing environment. NIR spectroscopy has been proven as a useful tool for measuring parameters of interest in the dairy industry. Vendors are coming up with new and innovative ways to make on-line measurements a feasible solution for companies. Advances such as improved fiber-optics, in-situ sampling, a transition to integrated automation, improved data management systems, and communication systems in the Internet and Cloud age have all contributed to implementing PAT. The beverage and food industries also present particular challenges due to natural product variability. In the case of pharmaceuticals and chemicals, the manufacturing process is usually conducted in a controlled environment with constituents that rarely show variability in spectral data over time. For foods and particularly agricultural products, there can be marked differences in products due to many factors, such as temperature variability, seasonal variation, differences in soil and nutrients, and different breeds of the same product. Such variability is especially important to account for when performing dairy analysis. Such differences can create variability in spectral data that must be incorporated into calibration models when calibrating NIR spectrometers and other analytical PAT tools. This is known as making models “robust” and often requires a larger and more incorporative sample set to achieve the desired results.

Calibration studies have been conducted for measuring parameters in the dairy industry in-line as well as in the laboratory. Results have been good and show that in-line measurements are a feasible tool for dairy analysis using PAT. Full adoption of PAT in the dairy industry will require a collaborative effort from process engineers, food scientists, and other contributors to provide the industry with a manufacturing framework for the 21st century.


Dairy Product Market By Product By Application Market Analysis, Market Size, Application Analysis, Regional Outlook, And Forecasts, 2016 to 2024

Dairy Market Value Worldwide in 2014 and 2019

Process Analytical Technology for the Food Industry -O’Donnell, Fagan, Cullen, et al., Springer, Food Engineering Series (2014)

Commercial Reference

Contact one of Galaxy Scientific’s Applications Specialists to discuss this information in further detail.