Is Whey Protein Sustainable? A Look Inside the Grande Sustainability Report


Water conservation. Reduced energy consumption. Less waste in landfills. Ethical environmental policies. Combating climate change…

These impacts surrounding sustainability in the dairy industry are considered among the top drivers of consumer purchasing decisions. Shoppers want to feel empowered to make a difference in the world, with 68% saying they plan to step up their efforts to purchase brands that help them reduce their environmental impact.

At Grande Custom Ingredients Group, sustainability is more than a buzzword; it’s been a way of life since 1941. The inherent qualities of whey protein concentrate — essentially an upcycled ingredient from the age-old cheesemaking process — have always aligned with environmental responsibility. In fact, compared to alternative plant proteins, whey protein ranks remarkably low for its environmental impact

Since 2013, Grande has released formal reports outlining its social responsibility efforts, and its farm-to-fork practices continue to evolve in response to the global crisis and unprecedented climate change. Here is a snapshot of notable takeaways and dairy sustainability accomplishments from Grande’s 2022 Social Responsibility Report

Sustainable and Ethical Farming Practices

To truly address a product's environmental impact, start at the source. Grande Custom Ingredients Group relies on its own network of dairy farms to produce its Grade A milk that is turned into numerous products. These farms are part of the following programs: 

  • Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Animal Care (FARM-AC) — helping to ensure the ethical and humane treatment of animals
  • Producers Assuring Consumers of Excellence (PACE) — focusing on soil, water and energy conservation, recycling, food safety, animal wellness and more
  • FARM Environmental Stewardship (FARM-ES) — addressing greenhouse gas emissions, land conservation, erosion prevention, zero waste discharge, biodiversity, energy conservation, wastewater management, and water conservation (Awarded the Innovation Center’s 2021 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award: Outstanding Supply Chain Collaboration)
  • Milk Management Assistance Program (MMAP) — optimizing milk quality and safety while addressing animal wellness
  • Site assessments that will help to reduce water consumption by 42,000,000 gallons annually
  • Collaboration with multiple Grande Producers to compost manure and plant cover crops, resulting in nearly two tons of phosphorus reduction

Production Facility Enhancements

Corporately, Grande undertook multiple projects to address sustainability in the production processes. Just some of these enhancements include:

  • Installation of thermal energy transfer system, providing “free” thermal energy to heat whey products
  • Upgraded steam system for short-time pasteurizers to reduce energy usage
  • Addition of an anaerobic digester that transforms waste into energy used to power the whey plant
  • Implementation of a CIP system, reducing annual water consumption by 20%
  • Integration of dosing system for cleaning processes, reducing cleaning chemical use by 10%

Employee Wellness

Taking care of the environment begins with taking care of employees. Not only does Grande provide training opportunities for employees at all eight facilities to further their ability to produce quality products, but measures are also taken to ensure their personal wellbeing with:

  • On-site health and wellness centers at multiple locations
  • Health clinics fully staffed by SSM healthcare medical practitioners
  • Fitness facilities for maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Safety training throughout their careers

Sustaining Communities

Equipping communities with the tools they need to thrive is a critical aspect of social responsibility. Grande is recognized as a leader in the communities in which it operates for its dedication to serving others.

  • Grande’s Greater Purpose Program is an employee giving initiative that allows associates to support coworkers in need. To date, employees have helped cover more than $60,000 in expenses for those facing natural disasters, medical treatments, funeral costs and much more. 
  • Grande’s Operator Support Program and Greater Purpose Program provided toolkits and financial support to more than 6,000 independent shops in the restaurant industry
  • Grande has provided nearly 500,000 pounds of cheese for Covid-response food donations 
  • Financially supported numerous community organizations, economic development projects and youth programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Make-a-Wish Foundation and Boys and Girls Club
  • In all, Grande supports an average of 100 nonprofit organizations each year

With a dedication to continuous improvement, advances in technology and farming practices on dedicated dairies, along with enhanced production practices and a passion to serve others, Grande has been able to further its efforts and mission to produce quality, all-natural whey protein products that are good for consumers, communities, producers and the environment.

To learn more about Grande’s eco-friendly and nutritious whey protein products that can be used to replace high-fat, high-cost ingredients like milk, cream, butter and cheese to deliver functionality, cost savings and nutritional improvements, please visit the products page. For additional reasons to use whey protein in your formulations, download the eBook below.

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