Westhaven dairy wins innovation award for Omega-3 enriched yoghurt

CLEVER FOOD: Westhaven director Jonty Barnett with the dairy's award-winning Omega-3 enriched yoghurt. Picture: Paul Scambler
CLEVER FOOD: Westhaven director Jonty Barnett with the dairy's award-winning Omega-3 enriched yoghurt. Picture: Paul Scambler

We already know yoghurt is good for gut health, but an Invermay dairy has stepped up the health value with a yoghurt that helps our eyesight, brain and immune system.

Westhaven launched its Omega-3 enriched cows’ milk yoghurt in November and has already won the 2017 Food Innovation Award from the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology.

The Westhaven team worked with Ringarooma dairy farmer Geoff Cox and CSIRO for around six months to get the yoghurt and fatty acid levels just right.

Rather than enriching the food in processing, the Omega-3 fatty acids are already in the milk Mr Cox sends to Westhaven.

A select group of Mr Cox’s 1000-strong herd receive Omega-3 supplemented feed from his Naturale dairy supplement factory, Westhaven director Jonty Barnett said.

“The cows absorb Omega-3 in their feed, which then transfers into the milk fat so there’s a certain level of Omega-3 in the milk. The cows get the benefits too,” Mr Barnett said.

“Tasmania’s dairy cows breathe the world’s cleanest air and graze in the cleanest pasture and now we have found a way to bring the health benefits of Omega-3 to our yoghurt through their feed,” he said.

Enriched milk is something Mr Cox had already been working on at his farm.

“Geoff had wanted to do this for a few years. He approached us because he wanted someone willing to partner with him. It’s a world-first product,” he said.

Westhaven’s Omega-3 enriched yoghurt comes in 500-gram and 200-gram pots.

“There is 60 miligrams [250 mililitres] of Omega-3 per serve [of Westhaven’s enriched yoghurt] so the 500-gram pot has 2.5 serves and there is a single serve in the 200-gram pot,” Mr Barnett said.

“We need 250 mililitres [of Omega-3] per day as adults, for eyesight and brain development,” he said.

Westhaven’s Omega-3 enriched yoghurt comes in natural, vanilla, mixed berry and raspberry flavours.

“We’ve had a good market response so far,” Mr Barnett said.

“We are positioning ourselves as a significant player in the dairy manufacturing industry in Tasmania,” he said.

The food innovation award is presented to a company that demonstrates a significant new development in a process, product, ingredient, equipment or package in the Australian food industry.

Westhaven is looking at using Mr Cox’s Omega-3 milk to make other products, such as cheese.

Omega-3 is also found in flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, soybeans, spinach, fish and shellfish.