I’ve heard more than one commentator who is in the business of selling whey protein talk about how they ‘manufacture’ whey. 

That is slightly misleading phrasing. A majority of those selling whey protein are repackaging whey in facilities by blending it with emulsifiers, flavours, enzymes, sweeteners etc. They are ‘manufacturing’ a finished product with whey as one key ingredients in the finished product. 

Most purveyors of whey protein, soy or pea protein are sourcing whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, milk protein or whatever else is part of their formulation from Europe, Australia, NZ, US or China. 

The only exception to this might be Amul and Parag.

Amul and Parag are two companies that make and sell cheese. The parts of milk that are ‘wasted’ in making cheese or paneer are processed into whey. Amul and Parag sell this whey. 

There are other large cheese and paneer manufacturers. They probably sell the whey water to a third party manufacturer who has the facilities to process the whey water into whey powder. Whey water is filtered, ultra filtered and spray dried to produce whey powder of different grades. 

To give you context, a liter of milk contains around 8 grams of whey protein. Milk is curdled to separate it into curd and whey liquid. By some estimates it takes 200 liters of milk to produce a kilogram of whey protein. That’s Rs 8000-10000 worth of milk to produce a kg of whey based on MRP. Based on what cooperatives pay farmers, it’s between Rs 6000-8000 worth of milk. Whey sells for Rs 1500-3500 per kg to consumers. The math is obvious. Whey is a part of the dairy supply chain. 


*Whey protein is a byproduct of cheese making. 

*Any contaminants introduced are probably from the milk being used. This is a result of what the cow eats or how the milk is being processed. 

‘Toxic metals can be found in WP if the milk assimilates toxic metals from the animal feed. Ruminant animals are exposed during grazing to intake a small portion from surface layers of soil (Laurent et al., 2005; Kostić et al., 2014). The growth of environmental pollution, which is caused by the increase of industrials, use of agrochemicals in farming and veterinary drugs which improve the milk yield, and urban emissions (Ataro et al., 2008; Bilandzic et al., 2011; Maas et al., 2011). In addition, using new technologies in food processing and production may increase the contamination with heavy metals (Kostić et al., 2014; Nerín et al., 2016; Shahbazi et al., 2016).’

As is evident, contaminated whey is not only an Indian problem. 

*A lab test can give you detailed macronutrient content, heavy metal content and the presences of other contaminants in whey. If our recent and not-concluded tryst with contaminated spices is any sign, Indians are probably eating some really iffy produce from across all aisles. 

There is a right whey. It’s from cows that eat the right hay. And people who process and pack it the right way.

Insight into whey