05 Jun CATI signs agreement for food processing technology
Racine, Wis. – Between being one of the top milk producers in the United States and hosting a legion of sports fans that call themselves cheeseheads, Wisconsin is clearly proud of its achievements in the dairy industry. And now, thanks to a new agreement signed between two Racine organizations, the state may soon have a new addition to its lactose roster.
The Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation (CATI), a non-profit organization developed to promote business and technology development in southeastern Wisconsin, announced on Thursday it has signed an agreement with the packaging company Alliance Enterprises of Southeastern Wisconsin, LLC. The agreement will give Alliance access to a food processing technology owned by CATI, which will be used to develop healthier dairy products.
Matt Wagner, director of CATI, said the technology was developed by Kraft Foods and given to CATI in early 2005 when it was ruled to be “off strategy” for the company. The technology removes the cholesterol from milk by using vegetable oils, which replace the animal fats with unsaturated fats. This is designed to create a better taste than low-fat dairy products, which simply remove the fat instead of finding a healthier replacement.
“What it does is give you a healthier cheese with the same taste and texture of the original milk’s properties,” Wagner said.
Alliance was connected with CATI in November of 2005 by the Hispanic Central Business Association, and the two groups began working together as part of an effort to grow partnerships with minority technology-based companies in the southeastern Wisconsin region. Wagner said the partnership has worked well due to CATI’s previous connections in the dairy industry, such as the Dairy Business Innovation Center, as well as a supportive climate for minority partnerships.
“What we really want to do is provide opportunity through our partnerships. It’s something we want to grow in and expand,” Wagner said. “We’re not specifically a minority tech transfer, but we want to make these opportunities available.”
While the milk produced from this technology is still being tested, the results have been very encouraging, according to Alliance Enterprises president Ed Salinas. Initial tests have come back with a very low saturated fat and low levels of harmful cholesterol, while the good cholesterol levels have stayed the same.
“The cheese could really revolutionize the industry, and we’re trying to get it confirmed,” Salinas said. Right now, Alliance is working on getting the milk tested at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to confirm the initial results.
According to Salinas, once the research and development is complete, Alliance plans to move into the market with an initial focus on Hispanic cheeses. The Hispanic cheese market has few low-fat and low-cholesterol alternatives, and has a growth rate of 23 percent annually, making it a profitable field for the new milk.
“We feel the market is strong with very little competition,” Salinas said.
Hispanic cheeses will only be a starting point for Alliance, however. Since the technology is milk-based, it can be used throughout the entire dairy industry in products such as ice cream, butter, or yogurt, and Alliance is more than willing to discuss additional outlets.
“There’s been a number of different cheese manufacturers interested, and there’s a lot of activity right now on this milk,” Salinas said. “If someone wants to produce Italian cheeses, we’re not going to turn them away.”