Arla acquires Volac’s Whey Nutrition business to expand sports nutrition offering

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

© Volac / Arla Food Ingredients
© Volac / Arla Food Ingredients

Related tags Arla food ingredients Arla Whey Whey protein whey isolate

Arla Foods Ingredients has signed an acquisition agreement with the owners of Volac’s Whey Nutrition business, which will include a takeover of the Volactive range.

The Danish dairy company will acquire the division through the purchase of shares in Volac Whey Nutrition Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries Volac Whey Nutrition Limited and Volac Renewable Energy Limited. 

"When considering the future of Volac Whey Nutrition and the opportunities that lie ahead for that business, it was crucial for us to choose a partner with the right values and expertise," said James Neville, joint owner of family business Volac. "Arla Foods Ingredients has the ambition and the knowledge to take the business to the next level."

Arla Foods Ingredients’ current portfolio includes the Lacprodan range of solutions for sports nutrition applications including RTDs, powder shakes and protein bars. This acquisition will allow Arla Foods Ingredients to use the whey processing facility in Felinfach, Wales as a global production hub.

"We believe that bringing together Arla Foods Ingredients’ innovation capability and Volac’s manufacturing excellence will have a highly positive effect on our offerings to the global performance, health and food industries, supporting them in meeting the needs of a growing market," Luis Cubel, group vice president and managing director of Arla Foods Ingredients told NutraIngredients. 

"The acquisition will expand our capacity for the production of WPI for the sports nutrition market and lactose for the food industry. It will also allow us to add animal bases for calf-milk replacement to our portfolio."

Completion of the transaction is expected later this year, subject to required regulatory approvals by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

Volac Whey Nutrition

The UK-based Volac group specializes in turning whey into ingredients for sports nutrition, with byproducts used for food and animal nutrition. 

The Felinfach site has been processing whey for over three decades ago and supplies the Volactive range, which consists of core protein isolates UltraWhey 90 (a pure whey protein isolate containing on average 92% protein) and UltraWhey Xtra Pure (a premium quality whey protein isolate containing on average 94% protein and less than 0.4% lactose).

Its specialty range includes UltraWhey Velicious, a specifically engineered whey protein concentrate powder designed to be used in everyday products including ice cream, small format products (such as squeezable pouches), bars, chocolate, spreads, fillings or cookies. It also includes Pro₂O, a low-pH whey protein isolate in a clear, ready-to-mix shake form.

Cubel noted that it has not yet been decided whether Arla will maintain the Volactive branding of the ingredients post acquisition.

"Bringing two companies together is of course always a challenge," he said. "While we do not take this lightly, we are confident that we can create an even stronger company for the future."

The aim of the acquisition, he continued, is growth and innovation. The expectation is that it will positively impact the size of the company in the long term, with plans to further develop the Felinfach site.  

Sports Nutrition​ 

According to Euromonitor’s 2024 Consumer Health report, the global sports nutrition industry has grown at a CAGR of 9% since 2010 and is projected to be worth $42.2 billion by 2028. For context, it was worth $28.1 billion in 2023.

This can be in part attributed to the democratization of sports nutrition. In the past, demand for protein-enriched functional beverages was limited to hardcore athletes who were willing to overlook the sensory properties of products if they delivered the desired nutrients.

Now, sports nutrition products are attracting a broader, more diverse base of consumers who are looking to optimize their health and counteract aging—understanding that additional protein can help them achieve these goals as part of muscle-building exercise regimes.

Nutrition Integrated, the specialist active nutrition data and insights provider, recently reported​ that there has been a 12% increase in the number of clear whey products available to keep up with the demand of everyday consumers.

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