New innovations and patents are spinning acid whey into a useful and functional ingredient.

CHICAGO — The recent rise of Greek yogurt has resulted in the surplus of a problematic byproduct called acid whey. For every gallon of Greek yogurt produced, three gallons of acid whey are strained off during processing. But with its low pH and high mineral content, this ingredient has been difficult to dispose or repurpose — until recently, that is. New innovations and patents are spinning the waste material into a useful and functional ingredient.

Acid whey was one of five “ingredients to watch” highlighted by Mintel, Chicago, during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition held July 11-14 in Chicago.

Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst for Mintel.

“Because of the Greek yogurt boom, (manufacturers) have so much of this acid whey, and they’ve had to figure out something to do with it,” Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst for Mintel, told Food Business News. “That’s what drove sweet whey. They had so much sweet whey from all of the dairy production and cheese making that manufacturers figured out how to deal with that, and now you see whey in a host of products.”

Several patents filed last year aim to transform acid whey into a functional ingredient, particularly for beverages. Because of its low pH, acid whey’s nutrients are more bioavailable, research suggests.

While still found in very few products, the use of acid whey as an ingredient increased 129% between 2010 and 2014. Acid whey is not common in the United States, but the ingredient is making its way in juices and other beverage products in Eastern Europe.

Brooklyn-based yogurt maker The White Moustache has introduced a line of beverages made with acid whey that contains live probiotics and calcium. Flavors include ginger, sweet beet, honey lime, pineapple, and passion fruit, as well as a plain variety that may be used in smoothies or juices or as a brine for poultry.

Developers of sports nutrition products, such as drinks and gels, may consider acid whey as a source of electrolytes, Ms. Mattucci said.

Read on for four more ingredients to watch.