Milk powder is defined as a milk product obtained by the extraction of water from milk. By removing moisture, the potential for microbial growth is reduced. As a result, milk powder provides transportation, storage convenience and shelf life benefits not found in liquid milk. Milk powder usually provides a lower cost milk alternative to liquid milk and has many applications.
There is a range of milk powders available, each with varying levels of protein, fat and water. These milk powder types include whole milk powder, nonfat dry milk powder and skimmed milk powder. Each milk powder has commonly used abbreviations of WMP, NFDM and SMP respectively. The defining characteristics of each milk powder are milkfat by weight on a milk-solids-not-fat (MSNF) basis, which ranges between 1.5% and 40% depending on the type of milk powder. The second characteristic is moisture, which ranges from 5% moisture by weight to less than 1%. NFDM and SMP are further defined by milk protein content. SMP has a minimum milk protein content of 34%, whereas NFDM has no standardized protein level.1
WMP, NFDM and SMP milk powders are classified for use as ingredients according to the heat treatment used in their manufacture. This treatment determines the solubility of the milk powder and thus, its selected application. These uses include blending it with pastry dough to make the dough crispier, use as an egg substitute, a freshness aid in the baking of breads, and in the production of milk chocolate, ice cream and infant formula. Milk powder is also used in humanitarian relief efforts, is stored in emergency shelters and is carried by hikers and campers.