UCPH FOOD’s dairy research

The Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH FOOD) carries out both basic and applied research, with a focus on milk and dairy products, and all four sections within the department are involved in active collaborations with the dairy industry.

The value of Danish food exports in 2017 was about DKK 119 billion, with about 18% of this (DKK 19 billion) generated from the export of dairy products. Milk production has increased in recent years and now amounts to 5.5. million tons of milk produced every year by just over 3000 farmers. Most of this milk (95%) is treated by co-operative dairies and at present there are 54 dairy production plants in Denmark. More than 10% of the milk produced is organic.

In addition, more than 10% of the world’s food ingredients are produced in Denmark, including: protein ingredients, natural colours, specially designed bacterial cultures, enzymes, emulsifiers, stabilizers and many other types of ingredients aimed at improving the quality and shelf life of various food products. Many of these ingredients end up in dairy products, with some of these produced from milk or from whey, a by-product from cheese production. Also, Denmark has a very well-developed industry dedicated to manufacturing equipment and instrumentation for the food industry, in many cases with a strong focus on the dairy industry.

It is thus not surprising that the dairy and ingredient industries as well as equipment manufacturers in Denmark strongly support dedicated education in Dairy Science and Technology (a specialization of the MSc programme in Food Science and Technology) as well as research on dairy-related issues. There is, in fact, a very strong tradition of this in Denmark, going back to 1858 when the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (KVL) was founded. KVL merged with the University of Copenhagen in 2007.

The research field is broad and encompasses a distinct interdisciplinary approach, spanning from a basic molecular understanding of raw materials and added ingredients to the effects of processing and control of the macroscopic quality of final dairy products. In addition, the department is very active in research dealing with the microbiology of lactic acid bacteria and dairy-related fermentation as well as with implementing process analytical technology for better process control in the dairy industry.

Main areas of dairy research at UCPH FOOD





Mother’s milk is accepted as the optimal diet for newborn infants and it protects the infant’s intestine from infection and inflammation. When breastfeeding is not possible, infant formula based on bovine milk protein ingredients is often used to feed infants, including highly sensitive preterm infants. Many of these proteins are similar to mother’s milk proteins and therefore provide protective physiological effects, but their levels and functioning are in some cases different. Another reason for the differences is the protein structural modifications, which are introduced by some of the thermal treatments applied during production to ensure a microbiologically safe product and by the interactions with other dairy ingredients. However, these modifications can impair the supply of amino acids and may also modulate the level and function of key anti-inflammatory bioactive proteins. Thus, our current research is directed at gaining an understanding of these effects by using in vitro digestion and cell studies with the aim of improving the composition and function of the formulas for these infants.

We are also studying how processing affects milk protein structure and how this in turn could affect satiety. 

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section: Ingredient and Dairy Technology. For more information, contact Dereck Chatterton.

Current research

Strucsat: How structure affects satiety (DTU, DuPont Nutrition Biosciences Aps, Arla Foods Ingredients)

Infant-I:Tailored processing of bioactive ingredients for high-end infant formula (Arla Foods Ingredients)

UHT treatment and storage effects on the biological quality of liquid infant formulas (Danish Dairy Research Foundation)

NEOCOL: A research program aiming at providing documentation for an optimal high-quality, cost-effective Danish colostrum product to be used as a first feed or supplement for preterm infants (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences)










Our focus is primarily on the use of milk proteins as ingredients in dairy products. Whey proteins, i.e. the protein from milk that does not end up in cheese, are very often added back into various dairy products in order to provide water binding, emulsification, gelation or other functional properties. It is of the utmost importance to optimize the functionality of these ingredients in order to understand how the processing, e.g. size and properties of protein aggregates, affect their functionality. In addition, we also perform research on how the subsequent processing into dairy products affects the performance of dairy ingredients.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section: Ingredient and Dairy Technology. For more information, contact Mogens Larsen Andersen. 

Current research

Bespoke: Understanding and controlling protein ingredient–milk component interactions during processing (DTU, SDU, Arla Foods Ingredients, Arla Foods amba)











































Massive volumes of process water are wasted in the food and bioprocessing industries, which currently represents an environmental burden, whereas it could be turned into a resource. UCPH FOOD is performing research into how to use real-time measurement-based monitoring and control regimes for the processing and for cleaning water for enhanced production and/or to allow cost reductions in a sustainable way. For example, establishing the online quality control of cheese or other dairy productions would allow the dairy industry to better reuse water, leading to large savings both economically and environmentally. Automated technology could be implemented to demonstrate how re-used water affects the product quality and how it can be managed and controlled.

The research is performed by the UCPH FOOD-section: Food Analytics and Biotechnology. For more information, contact Søren Balling Engelsen

Current research

Reward: Reuse of water in food and bioprocessing industry (DTU, Technical University of Munich, DHI Group, Arla Foods Ingredients, Novozymes A/S, DSS, Alectia A/S, LiqTech International A/S)