Coles and Woolworths announce intention to go “permeate- free” in milk

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th July 2012

Australia’s two main supermarket groups, Coles and Woolworths, have each announced their intention to ensure their private label milks are all “permeate-free” milk.

The ‘statements of intent’ from the two supermarkets appear to be aimed at nullifying the successful marketing of several major processors declaring their brands to be “permeate-free”.

Jim Cooper, the spokesperson for Coles said that Coles’ private-label milk is already permeate-free in some parts of Australia and Coles is now working with their milk processors to make all Coles brand permeate free in the coming months.  Woolworths is also discussing a shift to permeate-free milk with its suppliers.

Permeate is a watery by-product, produced by separating milk into cream and powder. It is often added to milk on the basis that it is used “to standardise protein and fat content”.  Adding permeate to whole milk also reduces processing cost by re-utilising an existing dairy by-product.

Australian Food News previously reported on Dairy Farmers and Pura Milk brands initiating the marketing of milk as “permeate-free” milk, and then reported that other companies, such as Aussie Farmers Direct and A2 Corporations were claiming their milk was already “permeate-free”.  Clearly, a compositional point of difference was being used as a successful marketing tool against the supermarket house brand milks.

However, all such marketing claims and counter-claims now seem to have raised questions about how milk is processed or about the very nature of milk. Consumers are obviously becoming more curious. What the reasonable consumer expects to be in milk that many still call “fresh milk” is a question that may, one day, need further explanation.