Most significant dairy innovation since pasteurisation

A Sunshine Coast company has patented a breakthrough milk processing technology which has been hailed as the most significant innovation in the dairy industry since pasteurisation in 1864. 

Invented by Jeff Hastings, founder and CEO of Coolum Beach based Naturo, the Haelen method is a new technique for processing dairy milk that keeps it fresh for up to 60 days.

World-first milk technology

The technology has taken six years to perfect and has been verified by the CSIRO and dairy regulators as safe for human consumption.

A qualified agricultural engineer with over 30 years’ experience in global agribusiness, Mr Hastings says he was looking for a solution that would solve the problem of safely transporting fresh milk overseas, whilst retaining its natural goodness. 

While specific details remain commercial in confidence, the technology is stated to be a multi-step process that avoids any additives, preservatives or heat. 

“The Haelen method is a very gentle method,” says Mr Hastings. "Pasteurisation cooks milk, heats it to 73 degrees or higher, then holds it there for 15 seconds. The Haelen method doesn't rely on heat. 

"While pasteurisation is a great method for killing bugs, it also kills most of the goodness in milk. With the Haelen method we don’t add anything to the milk, just the opposite. Unlike pasteurisation - which tends to denature or destroy many vitamins - we retain the enzymes and proteins that are natural to milk and that are so good for us.”

"The Haelen method kills more pathogens than pasteurisation making it safer than traditional methods. It is the only known method that kills Bacillus cereus, a common pathogen in milk."

What about the taste? 

"When we give the milk to people, they say that the flavour is like it's straight out of the vat. It tastes like raw milk,” Mr Hastings told the Queensland Times.

Naturo founder Jeff Hastings

Naturo founder and Haelen method inventor, Jeff Hastings.

Enormous potential for export

The product promises to be an export game changer for the Australian dairy industry, allowing fresh Australian-produced dairy milk to be shipped for export, instead of transporting by air.

The innovation has “enormous potential” according to Karen Andrews, former federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology at the announcement of a one million dollar grant to commercialise the innovation earlier this year.

“…the product that has been developed here will certainly support growth in the domestic market, but also in the international market, for fresh milk that has a refrigerated shelf life of up to 60 days,” Ms Andrews said.

'This grant will help the company build a pilot plant in Queensland to create their product and then export it to the world.”

“There are many countries that have limited access to have fresh milk. We are keen to work with those countries to provide, what appears to be, a very excellent product.”

It’s the second world-first patented technology developed by Naturo, whose Natavo Zero avocado products are now available in 10 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore and France.

Natavo Avocado’s use a chemical-free process to switch off the enzyme that causes avocadoes to go brown, giving them up to 10 days shelf life once open and allowing treated avocado products to be frozen for up to two years.

Sunshine Coast's growing reputation for food innovation

One of the most dynamic locations in Australia for new food and agribusiness investment, the Sunshine Coast has a growing reputation for food innovation.

The region is home to more than 900 agribusinesses producing a wide range of products from seafood and strawberries to plant nurseries and dairy.

Well-known companies Walker Seafoods, Coyo, Buderim Ginger and Gourmet Garden (McCormick) were all born and bred in the region.  

The Queensland dairy industry is expected to benefit from the Haelen method technology with milk currently being sourced from the Mary Valley and processed locally at Naturo’s Coolum Beach plant on the Sunshine Coast.

Products using the Haelen method will be marketed under the brand name, The Wholey Milk Company and available on Australian supermarket shelves later this year. 

A second factory capable of producing up to 10 million litres of milk a year will be built in the near future, with expansion into export markets expected by 2022.

Dynamic and innovative food and agribusiness companies are invited to learn more about business opportunities on the Sunshine Coast.

For more information, email invest@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au or call the Head of Trade and Investment on +61 407 753 645.

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