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Milk Specialties Global named Ag Innovator of the Year

Company develops feed pellet that passes through cow’s stomach chambers before being broken down in small intestine.

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) is excited to announce that Milk Specialties Global of Eden Prairie, Minn., has been named its 2020 Ag Innovator of the Year.

The AURI board of directors awards the Ag Innovator of the Year title to a Minnesota company or entrepreneur that has made a substantial impact in the areas of product innovation, uniqueness and commercialization potential. This is AURI’s highest honor and this recognition has been awarded to past clients since 2002.

“The Ag Innovator of the Year award provides a platform to recognize innovative food and ag applications that inspire others to continue their commercialization journey of potential industry-changing technologies,” said AURI executive director Shannon Schlecht. “AURI is proud to work with companies like Milk Specialties Global that are constantly pushing agricultural innovation forward to see what is possible through science and technology. I am proud that AURI served as the catalyst to provide technical support and equipment to take this idea beyond the pilot stage. This is a great example of collaboration that has a meaningful impact throughout the ag sector.”

Milk Specialties Global is an Eden Prairie-based dairy processing company that develops high-quality nutritional ingredients for livestock producers, as well as milk and whey protein ingredients for human nutrition and functional foods. The company is one of the largest whey protein processors in North America, and in 2018 Milk Specialities Global introduced two new products. They were selected as an Ag Innovator of the Year for their innovative use of a dairy processing co-product that has become a commercial success as a supplement for dairy cows.

Milk Specialties Global enlisted AURI’s help in developing a coated feed pellet to deliver protein to dairy cows. The pellet is proven to increase levels of the amino acids lysine and methionine that boost performance and milk production. The team worked with AURI’s coproduct utilization lab in Waseca to perform initial product development research and overcome production challenges.

After more than two dozen attempts to create the right pellet, AURI and Milk Specialties Global researchers finally found the right density and durability to deliver the desired nutritional effect as the feed pellet passed through all four chambers of a cow’s stomach before being broken down in the small intestine.

The resulting breakthrough has significant economic implications for Milk Specialities Global. The feed pellet market for dairy cattle is growing. Industry experts estimate 25% of U.S. dairy cattle are receiving methionine supplements and about 15% are given lysine.

The scale and capabilities of AURI’s co-products lab was ideal for effectively conducting multiple attempts at a reasonable cost point while still simulating commercial conditions. 

“We are very proud as an organization to celebrate a successful collaborative effort,” said Chuck Soderholm, Milk Specialties’ global director of research and nutrition. “We could not have been able to successfully develop the coated pellet without AURI’s support and resources. We are grateful for their assistance and honored to be named Ag Innovator of the Year.” 


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