Dairy market on Mediterranean countries is substantially different from east/north European countries. Cow’s milk is mainly processed to UHT milk and fermented milks, and most of the other ruminant species production (principally ewe milk, but also goat and buffalo’s milk), is transformed to cheeses (Manchego, Pecorino, Beyaz Peynir, Mozzarella, Feta). For example, the cheese production from ewe’s milk (Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France, Turkey and Jordanian), is about 332,8 million Kg/year (FAO, 2014). The milk production is also scattered.
However, the dairy sector is very important for the maintenance of rural economy, and for the maintenance of the biodiversity and sustainability of rural areas. Dairy products are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet, with high levels of nutritional protein, and animals like ewe and goat, are more adapted to the Mediterranean climate, with grazing capacity in areas where dairy cows, cannot do it.
Large factories processing cow’s milk in central and west Europe, work with large automatized full lines, and can afford the investment of high capacity processing equipment, both for the whey concentration and drying, and for the elaboration of high quality protein fractions (sold for use as ingredient of infant formula, and for sport drinks). In fact, this valorisation of the whey protein is more profitable than the cheese elaboration, and in some factories, the whey protein has become the main source of value, and the cheese is just a co-product, which is sold at low price, just to complement the whey protein income. For example, Germany produces 1.890,9 million Kg/year of cow’s milk cheese, and 348,5 million Kg/year of dry whey powder (cheese whey has 95% of water, so you need to process a whey volume 20 times higher than the weight), FAO, 2014. To compete with these very large factories and high volumes of processed milk, the warm countries around the Mediterranean Sea are in large difficulties. They compete with high organoleptic quality dairy products, and with milk from livestock species different from cow. However, lack of appropriate valorisation of whey protein is an important handicap for these companies.