COVID-19 Spiked Demand for High-Protein Whey, but is Growth Sustainable?

By Tanner Ehmke

February 28, 2022

Key Points

  • The COVID-19 pandemic significantly altered the global whey market as health-conscious consumers’ demand for whey protein products surged alongside other nutritional supplements.
  • Despite record cheese production in the U.S., the global market is short on whey products as global demand for protein accelerates.
  • High-protein whey products like WPC-80 and WPI now command significant price premiums with the rapid increase in demand, making whey a more valued co-product for processors rather than a byproduct.
  • However, in the long term, high-protein products like WPC-80 and WPI will become increasingly commoditized as processors shift production focus. Further-processed fractionated whey protein products are expected to become bigger value-drivers of the whey stream.
  • High-protein whey products come with risks of increased price volatility inherent to niche and diverse product mixes and limited market players. To adequately meet the growing demand while covering this risk, dairy processors must invest in processing technologies that enable them to quickly adjust to market volatility.

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