Focusing your dairy procurement strategy on exact-fit products


Commodity procurement is often a race for the lowest price. But too many buyers lose sight of a more primary objective: acquiring a product that fits their use case.

For some use-cases, any mozzarella will do. But not every procurement manager is so fortunate. You likely have goals for meltability, stretchability and browning if you’re procuring mozzarella.

Using whole milk powder to make a white cheese sauce? You’re probably sensitive to the amount of scorched particles in the powder you buy. If you’re not careful, you’ll make queso that looks like vanilla ice cream.

Buying a tight spec product directly from a manufacturer, but looking to grow your volume beyond their capacity? You don’t have time to scour spec sheets from every powder processor in the Western Hemisphere.

Getting product sourcing right requires determining the right product and finding suppliers you trust. In this article, we discuss important product details to consider across a number of dairy ingredients.

Determining the perfect product

The most experienced dairy buyers know what specs they need their ingredients to meet — but many of them learned the hard way. Complaints about caking cheese slices make their way back down the production line and into the procurement office.

food scientists evaluating makeup of dairy products

Important considerations for cheese products

If you’re processing cheese into a sauce or American slices, you’re likely purchasing barrel cheese and other cheese solids without looking for any tight spec in particular.

Most buyers of block cheese want it for one of the following:

  • Aging
  • Slicing
  • Cubing
  • Chunking
  • Processing
  • Shredding for retail sales
  • Shredding for food service

If you’re aging cheese, the details of that cheese’s composition will make an impact on the product you develop. European food scientists have studied how seasonal differences in milk composition affect characteristics of aged cheese (due to seasonal changes in feeding practices). And multiple specs have an impact on water activity during the aging process.

All this contributes to stark differences in the matured cheese that hits the shelf, with your brand’s name on the packaging. And we can help you control for whatever fine detail you’d like, by using our expertise in regional, local and even farm-to-farm nuances in dairy practice.

For traders like Jacoby, product understanding shouldn’t stop at the chemistry. We know where to find tight-spec ingredients, and we help dairy buyers diversify their supply chain with a single point of contact.

When it comes to sliced and cubed cheese, moisture levels are particularly important. Too dry, and the cheese won’t stand up to processing. But too much moisture leads to caking where the cubes or slices rest against each other in packaging.

Moisture levels of various mozzarella cheeses should range from 45% to 60%. Most cheddars have moisture levels between 35% and 39%. And some regions and producers consistently make cheese on one end of that spectrum or the other, due to nuances in their manufacturing processes.

Important considerations for powder products

In terms of powder, some use cases come with important visual specs. Most importantly, the volume of scorched particles, measured against four standard discs, A – D. It’s crucial to know your company’s tolerance for scorched particles when purchasing any dried powder product.

Powder products come with a wide range of compositional specs, suited to a wide range of use cases. For instance, whey with low lactose and high pH typically finds a home on farms for use as animal feed. Its acidic taste makes it a bad fit for human food products like American cheese or nutritional drinks.

If you use milk powder to supplement food products, you probably pay close attention to nutritional specs like protein, lactose and fat content.

Finding the product you need

Knowing what you need is only step one. The most important responsibility you have is to make sure you’ve got a strong supply come production time.

Buyers of tight-spec ingredients often find themselves relying on a single supplier, which incurs some natural supply risks. What if you need to scale production? What if their lines go down for a couple of days?

At Jacoby, product understanding doesn’t stop at the chemistry. We know where to find tight-spec ingredients, and we help dairy buyers diversify their supply chain with a single point of contact.

If you have a lot of experience purchasing dairy ingredients, you probably understand some of these nuances. If you don’t have a lot of experience, you should consider borrowing some of ours on a call.

Want help finding right-fit dairy ingredients?

Reach out. Whether you’re looking to diversify your supply chain, start sourcing a new ingredient or just talk shop, we’d love to listen.

We’ll probably ask you some questions about your purchasing objectives to get things started. In the meantime, subscribe to our market report and podcast newsletters below for ongoing insight into today’s dairy markets.

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