WESTBY, WIS. – After investing $1 million into new equipment that will help make better use of acid whey waste that is created while making cottage cheese, Westby Cooperative Creamery expects to process 6.9 million gallons of whey in 2022.

While announcing its latest investment, the dairy cooperative shared that it used to sell all of its acid whey prior to March 2020, when shifts in the market made that avenue of disposal more difficult.

In its methods of making cottage cheese, Westby Cooperative Creamery detailed that approximately 14% of the skim milk is turned into cheese, while the remaining byproduct is acid whey. Therefore, the cooperative decided to process the whey on site by installing equipment that filters out the protein, solids and water.

“Being the only cottage cheese manufacturer in Wisconsin, the creamery takes great pride in turning its farmers’ milk into something that’s both good for you and good for the environment,” said Emily Bialkowski, sales and marketing manager for the cooperative.

Using the new equipment, Westby Cooperative Creamery can now sell the filtered byproduct of its cottage cheese, by turning the whey into permeate for animal feed and protein that can be used as an ingredient in nutritional supplements.

“As a dairy cooperative with over 145 small family farms that make their living off the land, we have a responsibility to actively research and invest in practices that help better our environment and the communities we live in,” said Pete Kondrup, Westby Cooperative Creamery’s general manager. “Turning acid whey into a usable product is one way we can do this.”

The Wisconsin-based dairy cooperative also set a goal of eventually reusing the water consumed from filtering acid whey.