Dairy At Glance

Value Addition to Buffalo Milk – Present Scenario and Future Prospects

 Dr. S. K. Kanawjia

Principal ScientistDairy Technology Division,

National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132 001 (Haryana)


            Buffalo has been an integral part of livestock agriculture in Asia for over 5000 years producing milk, meat, hides and draft power.  Milk accounts for about 70 per cent of the DGP from livestock sector. India accounted for 14.4per cent of estimated 626 million tones of the milk produced in the world in 2005.  Milk production in India increased more than five-fold from 17 million tones in 1950-51 to 90.17 million tones in 2004-05 (94.6 million tones in 2005-06 provisional estimates).  Buffalo is the major contributor of 55.42 per cent to India’s milk production and about 65.84per cent of total buffalo milk produced in the world.  Milk is a part of daily food consumption in most south Asian countries, especially for a population predominantly vegetarians in India. Export earning of dairy products in 2005-06 was Rs. 6766.82 million as against Rs. 13.98 million in 1990-91.  The imports increased from Rs. 40.52 million to 345.66 million during the same period and hence net trade balance changed from negative to positive.   The present paper aims at highlighting the present scenario and future prospects of processing of buffalo milk for value added products.

Buffalo Milk Quality

                  Comparative milk composition in buffalo, cow and goat is given in Table 1.  Buffalo milk is healthy as it is richer in saturated fatty acids.  Its much higher total solids (18-23% vs 13-16%) is useful for making cheese, butter fat, several kinds of traditional sweets and ice cream.  Swamp buffalo milk has even higher fat (9-15%), protein (7.1%), lactose (4.90%) and ash (0.89%) (Thac 1979).  Buffalo milk is especially important and priced higher in Italy for making Mozzarella cheese.

Table 1: Composition of milk in buffalo, cow and goat





Skimmed milk

Moisture (gm)





Protein (gm)





Fat (gm)





Minerals (gm)





Carbohydrates (gm)





Energy calories (kCal)





Calcium (mg)





Phosphorus (mg)





Iron (mg)






Nutritional Value of Buffalo Milk Products:

            Various studies have established that there is practically no difference in the nutritive value and digestibility of milk and milk products obtained from cow and buffalo milk.  Significantly, cholesterol content of buffalo milk is 0.65 mg/g compared to cow milk, which contains 3.14 mg/g. Animal bioassays have shown the PER value of buffalo milk proteins as 2.74 and that of cow milk as 2.49.  Corresponding values for the biological value, NPU and absorption of fat as 91.9, 88.8, and 79.9 and 78.4, 78.3 and 74.6, respectively. 

Bioprotective Attributes of Buffalo Milk:

            It has been perceived that the communities with superior health/immunity traditionally use buffalo milk.  Supportive research on nutritional and immunological aspects of buffalo milk adequately substantiates such perceptions.  Level of various bioprotective factors, such as immunoglobulin, lysozyme, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase etc. is appreciably higher in buffalo milk compared to that of cow milk.  Various research investigations suggest the possibility of utilizing bovine cholesterol immunoglobulin for industrial production of infant formulas with enhanced bioprotective factors.  Considerable scope is indicated for developing a range of dairy foods from buffalo milk having enhanced nutritional and Probiotical attributes.  In concert with other bioprotective factors, immunoglobulin of protection primarily by binding and neutralizing toxins of viruses, and preventing contact between entero pathogenic microorganisms and epithelial cells, thus hindering infections.  These findings are summarized in the accompanying Table2.

Table 2.Agglutination titre of colostrums antibodies with antigens of entero-pathogenic organisms


Agglutination  titre of antiserum (Unit/ml)





E-coli O




E-coli H




Shigella O








Salmonella H





Prominent use of buffalo milk in products making

            Due to the quantitative and qualitative differences in various milk constituents and physico-chemical and functional properties of cow and buffalo milks the buffalo milk is better suited for the manufacturing of majority of milk products like dahi, yoghurt, shrikhand, paneer, khoa, cream, cooking Butter, ghee, ice-cream, dried cream, dried butter, UHT cream, dried ice-cream mix, edible casein, caseinates, dairy whiteners and infant and health foods.  A brief description of these inherent advantages of buffalo milk in fluid milk supply and in the manufacturing of different products is given below.

Consumers’ Acceptance for Buffalo Milk

            The Indian population has a great liking for buffalo milk, which forms a thick cream layer (malai).  This layer thickens further after boiling and storage.  The high viscosity of buffalo milk exerts an additive influence on the consumer’s preference.  It is known to impart a distinct whitening effect to tea and coffee because of higher quantity of whey proteins and casein.  Boiling of buffalo milk causes the release of high amounts of sulphydryl compounds, which contribute to nutty, cooked flavour leading to its high acceptance as a drink.  Full cream buffalo milk is sold at premium price because of its flavour and its ability to produce good quality products (Rajorhia, 2000).

Industrial predilection for buffalo Milk

            Milk product plants prefer buffalo milk because of its high fat and solids-not-fat content.  In the early stages of dairy development in India, dairy plants were generally located in areas where buffaloes predominated.  Dairy plants purchase milk on the basis of fat and SNF, and the price paid for buffalo milk is very favourable to milk producers.  The chemical superiority of buffalo milk over that of other species makes it preferable for processing as fluid milk and in the manufacture of a variety of indigenous milk products, fermented milk products, fat-rich products, and frozen desserts.  Buffalo milk is also used in the manufacture of western-type products like cheese, condensed and evaporated milk, dried milk, and other products. 

UHT Processing of Buffalo Milk

            Notable efforts are being made to adopt UHT method for processing of buffalo milk, liquid milk products, table cream and other dairy products to improve their shelf-live under the different climatic conditions and to obviate chilling requirements during transport and marketing.  UHT milk being marketed on a limited scale in India is reported to have a shelf-life of 15 days (Singh and Patil, 1988).  Unless the shelf-life of UHT milk is extended to 3 months, the potential benefits of this technology cannot be fully exploited.  High initial bacterial counts in raw milk tend to develop off-flavours faster during storage than low bacterial count milk.  Solanky (1987) undertook a systematic study to provide a theoretical base for UHT processing on the basis of bacteriological quality of raw buffalo milk available in field and farm conditions and thermal kinetics of spore destruction.  The L.P. system was found to be bacteriostatic for the spores and bactericidal for the psychrotrophs in raw milk.  Bactofugation of raw milk reduces the bacterial load in milk by 99%.  Integration of bactofugation with UHT processing of milk seems to be economical for good quality UHT milk was produced at temperatures as low as 125ºC.

Concentrated milk:

                        The main problem in the manufacturing of concentrated milk from buffalo milk is the unstability of its concentrated product.  The concentrated product from buffalo milk gets coagulated during sterilization making the manufacturing of evaporated milk difficult.  Also, chances of age-gelation during storage are more due to lower stability of the product. These problems have been eliminated with the addition of 0.05 to 0.075% calcium chloride in the fluid milk before concentration and adjustment of pH of concentrate to neutral before sterilization (Sindhu, 1985).


Buffalo Milk in Traditional Products:

            In India, buffalo milk finds heat concentrate milk products like khoa, Rabri, Kheer and Basundi in which open pan technology of condensing is employed.  Buffalo milk results in higher yields and superior quality condensed products as compared to cow milk products.


            Khoa from buffalo milk is softer and smoother than the one obtained from cow milk.  Cow milk results in inferior quality khoa due to its moist surface, sticky and sandy texture and salty taste, which is not considered suitable for the manufacture of sweet, meats. Buffalo milk khoa produces milk sweets with soft texture, because of the presence of proportionately higher amounts of fat (Dharam Pal, 2000).

            Technology has been perfected for production of Khoa powder from buffalo milk.  This product can be manufactured during the flush season and in areas where surplus milk is abundantly available.  The product can be marketed during lean months in the cities and towns where demands for khoa based sweets are always high.  Khoa powder retains its original taste and flavour up to six months in a tin container sealed in the presence of nitrogen and BHA.  Khoa power can be directly used in the production of Khoa based sweets, the techniques of which are standardized (Rajorhia, 2000).


            Paneer, a coagulated full cream buffalo milk product, is very popular in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma and Nepal.  It is used in the preparation of curries, vegetables, & sweets and other culinary dishes.  Many dairy plants in the organized sector are evincing keen interest in commercial production of paneer.

            The paneer is superior when made from buffalo milk.  The cow milk paneer is too soft, weak and fragile and after cooking its pieces loose their identity.  The reason for such type of behaviour of cow milk paneer is now known.  However, the lesser proportion of solid fat and lesser proportion of casein with smaller size of the micelles and lesser total and colloidal calcium in cow milk seems to be responsible for such type of paneer (Kanawjia & Singh 1988, 2000).

            It has been suggested to use 15% butter milk solids in replacement of buffalo milk solids in replacement of buffalo milk solids for paneer making without effecting its taste and texture.  Use of low fat milk for paneer making results in a chewy, elastic and hard texture product.  Technology has been developed at NDRI, Karnal for manufacture of low fat paneer using certain dietary fiber (Kantha, 2005).


            The quality of buffalo milk chhana is not comparable to cow milk chhana when prepared using the same procedure employed to cow milk.  Its texture is hard and brittle, making it unsuitable for rasogulla preparation.  Attempts have been made to modify the process to produce chhana of comparable quality by adjusting the pH and temperature of coagulation, use of additives, dilution of milk before coagulation and delayed straining technique.  Treatment of buffalo milk with 25% water before coagulation and use of low strength citric acid solution were found to improve the texture of chhana.  Addition of 0.3% mixture of dibasic sodium phosphate and monosodium phosphate (2:1) to buffalo milk before heating yield a chhana which is comparable to cow milk chhana suitable for rasogulla making (Sindhu,1996).

Traditional Fermented Products

            The practice of preserving milk by fermentation is a common household technology in India.  Dahi is almost a compulsory item of food.  The Indian medical treatise Sushruta Samhita describes dahi as a food for longevity, promoting appetite and bestowing strength.  The main fermented milk products of Asia are Dahi, Makkhan, Lassi, Butter Milk, Misti Dahi, Chhana, Shrikhand and related products.  The Dahi made from buffalo milk is superior in body and texture due to higher total solids higher fat with bigger globules and larger proportion of solid fat, higher content of proteins, particularly caseins with bigger micelles size and presence of whole of the casein in the micelle form along with higher calcium, more so in the colloidal state.  Buffalo milk is better suited for manufacturing of yoghurt as its manufacture is easier and there is no need for prior concentration of milk or addition of dried milk due to higher total solids.  The body and texture of the yoghurt is also superior compared to the same made from cow milk due to higher content of fat with larger proportion of solid fat and bigger size of the globules.  Higher protein content with larger proportion of casein, bigger micelles and higher content of total and colloidal calcium is also beneficial for yielding superior Yoghurt from buffalo milk.  Shrikhand is also better and yield is more when made from buffalo milk (Rajorhia,2000).

Misti Dahi and Lassi

            Misti dahi is fermented milk product of West Bengal and other parts of India.  It is prepared by heating buffalo milk with 12-13% cane sugar.  The concentrated milk with a slightly caramelized flavour and brown colour is inoculated with a mixed starter culture consisting of Lactococcus lactic and lactococcus diacetylactis strains.  A firm curd with smooth body, sweet taste and pleasant aroma develops in about 7 hours incubated at 30 °C (Ghosh, 1986).

            Lassi is yet another fermented milk used a refreshing beverage, often with added sugar, salt and spices and topped with clotted cream.  Recently, technology has been developed for manufacture of probiotic lassi using Lactobacillus acidophilus probiotic culture.

Cream cooking butter and ghee:

            Buffalo milk is better suited for the manufacturing of cream, cooking butter and ghee as the yield of these products is more from buffalo milk due to higher content of fat.  Loss of fat in skimmed milk and butter milk is less due to longer size of globule and higher proportions of solid fat in buffalo milk. The separation of cream and churning of butter is also easier from buffalo milk due to bigger size of the globules and larger proportion of solid fat.  Texture of ghee is superior when made from buffalo milk due to bigger size of the grains which, in turn, are the result of larger proportions (9-12%) of high melting triglycerides compared to only 5 to 6% in cow milk fat.  The keeping quality of buffalo ghee is better with respect to the development of hydrolytic rancidity.  Due to higher fat content buffalo milk is better suited for the manufacturing of UHT cream, dried cream and dried butter (Mathur, 1994).

Casein and Caseinate:

            Due to higher content of casein in the form of bigger micelles and presence of whole of the casein in the micellar state it is easier to manufacture edible casein and caseinate (sodium and calcium) from buffalo milk.  The yield of buffalo milk casein and caseinate is higher as the losses in the whey are less due to bigger size and lesser hydration and voluminosity of buffalo milk casein micelles.

Coffee and Tea Whiteners:

            Due to higher fat, proteins and salt content in buffalo milk, the yield of dairy whiteners from buffalo milk is higher.  The product is superior due to its whitish colour when made from buffalo milk.  The absence of carotene in buffalo milk and bigger size of the casein micelles with higher opacity compared to cow casein is responsible for better quality products from buffalo milk.  The higher emulsifying capacity of buffalo milk fat is also beneficial for the better dispersion of whiteners when used in tea or coffee.

Infant and health foods from buffalo milk:

            Better absorption of fat due to its higher emulsifying capacity, better absorption of calcium due to higher calcium/phosphorus ratio, higher concentration of calcium, magnesium, lactoferrin, esterified cholesterol and taurine content and lower concentration of sodium, potassium, chloride, urea and free and total cholesterol in buffalo milk compared to cow milk is beneficial in human nutrition.  These attributes make the buffalo milk superior than cow milk as an ingredient for infants and health foods provided its curd tension is reduced to improve its digestibility.


            Buffalo milk due to its intrinsic basic differences in its physico-chemical make-up has posed certain problems in manufacture of hard varieties of cheese.  The major problems encountered in the manufacturing of hard type of cheese from buffalo milk have been, the slow development of acidity, faster renneting time, lower retention of moisture, hard rubbery and dry body, slower proteolysis and lipolysis and lack of characteristic flavour (Kanawjia, 1987).

Cheddar Cheese:

            A great deal of research work has been done at National Dairy Research Institute to manufacture good quality of hard and semi-hard varieties of cheese. Heating the milk at relatively higher temperature, addition of sodium chloride to milk, higher starter culture inoculum, supplementing the starter with Lactobacillus casei, low setting temperature, and low cooking temperature have made it possible to manufacture good quality cheese.  Process has also been developed to enhance flavour development by  addition of lipase and protease, using partially lactose hydrolyzed milk, blending of buffalo milk goat milk and using microencapsulated enzymic preparations (Kanawjia, 1987, Kanawjia and Singh 1988).

Swiss cheese:

            Swiss cheese, also known as Emmentaler belongs to hard variety of cheese.  This cheese is very popular because of its mild nutty flavour, a distinct characteristic of having bright, shining, large sized eyes and good cohesive, waxy body.  An appropriate technology has been developed to manufacture good quality Swiss type cheese employing certain process modifications from buffalo milk. The ripening period of cheese has been reduced to a greater extent using starter adjuncts and exogenous enzymes (Ladkani and Srinivasan, 1988, upadhyay, 1996).  

Gouda cheese:

            Gouda cheese is a semi-hard cheese having yellow colour, firm, waxy body and mild flavour.  Good quality Gouda cheese has been made from buffalo milk employing certain process modifications, and flavour development has been enhanced by using modified starter cultures, starter adjuncts and exogenous enzymes (Kanawjia, et al. 1995).

Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella is a white, soft, “spun curd”, unripened Italian cheese variety.  This cheese was originally made from buffalo milk.  In comparison to cow milk, buffalo milk is not only more suited for Mozzarella cheese but it also gives more piquant and aromatic cheese and better stretch ability.  The technology has been perfected to manufacture good quality Mozzarella cheese employing traditional starter culture and direct acidification techniques (Ghosh and Singh 1988, Kanawjia, et al. 1996, Upadhyay, 1996).  A technology has been developed for manufacture of processed Mozzarella cheese with extended shelf life from buffalo milk using hydrocolloids and emulsifier employing heat processing (Kanawjia, 2006).

Cottage cheese:

            Cottage cheese is a typical lactic acid, unripened, soft curd variety of cheese made from skim milk.  The cheese containing not less than 4.0% fat is called creamed cottage cheese.  The most desirable SNF level of 8.5 to 8.8% is crucial to the making of good  quality cottage cheese. In cow milk this level is usually obtained by fortification with low heat skimmed milk powder or with concentrated skim milk.  Higher SNF in skim milkgives a firm curd, requires shorter cooking, and increases the curd elasticity, vat capacity and yield buffalo skim milk provided all these requirements with the addition of sodium chloride @ 0.1% by weight of milk, cutting the curd at an acidity of 0.72%, raising the cooking temperature to 60°C and reducing the time of cooking to 75 min. instead of 90 min. in the case of cow’s milk (Tewari and Singh, 1988). 

Formulated Products:

            In order to diversify the product mix and to utilize the surplus buffalo milk, attempts have been made to develop technologies for new products, such as dried ice cream mix, mango and banana milk powder, dahi powder, shrikhand powder, chhana powder, khoa powder, etc.  Many of the formulated products developed from buffalo milk such as chocolate milk powder, dried kheer mix, gulabjamun mix powder, malted milk powder, dried basundi, rasogulla powder etc. guarantee much high returns to the manufacturers than those obtained from cow’s milk.

Application of low calorie sweeteners in traditional milk products:

            Diabetes has become a major health issue in South-East Asia.  It has been estimated by the International Diabetics Federation that 23 million people currently have diabetes, which accounts for a sixth of the world’s diabetic population. India has the largest diabetic population and one of the highest diabetes prevalence rates in the world.  It is predicted that the Indian diabetic population would rise to more than 80.9 million by the year 2030 (King et al, 1998).  The dairy industry has responded to the growing needs of health conscious consumers for low calorie and sugar free foods.  Kumar (2000) developed a low calorie lassi by using aspartame.  Technology has been developed for khoa based sweets using ascesulfame-K, aspartame and sucralose (Muralidhar, 2006, Narendra, 2006), sucralose (Prabha, 2006,).  The Indian counterpart for ice-cream, kulfi has been developed by Pandit (2004).

Future Prospects and strategies

            Buffalo has been and will remain an integral part of the socioeconomic fabric especially of small holder farmers in several agro-based developing countries in Asia in general and particular in India. Due to several breeding programmes to improve the productivity of buffaloes the milk production will bound to enhance enormously and therefore, more and more milk will be available for its judicious processing into value added products to cater the needs of our population and also for export purposes. Buffalo milk has several special features which need to be focused in our R&D effort to create values in dairy products. Technological modifications for manufacturing several dairy products from buffalo milk have been already standardized at NDRI.The share of organized sector are very small (approximately 16 %). While the Government/co-operative sector markets nearly 80 per cent of the milk as liquid milk, the private sector markets only 30 per cent as liquid milk and remaining 70 per cent as milk products mostly comprising powder, butter and ghee. The future for commodities like powder and ghee does not appear sustainable and hence a major shift in product mix for organized dairy industry is foreseeable. Empirical evidences also suggest that the composition of an average Indian’s food basket is gradually shifting towards value added products. It is therefore essential for the Indian Dairy Industries to initiate manufacture of mass-market products for domestic as well as export markets. The following strategies are therefore immensely important.

Improvement in quality of milk & milk products

            For maintaining strategic advantage in the fast changing global trade scenario, it is imperative that stringent quality measures are followed in all areas of post-harvest handling of milk in general and buffalo milk in particular.  

Application of newer dairy processing technologies

            Newer technologies such as UHT processing, Membrane processing, etc. are now available which can be used to increase the processing efficiencies and reduce environmental impact. Emerging technologies such as high hydrostatic pressure (HHP), pulsed electric field (PET) etc. are emerging technologies with promising future and need to be coupled with minimal processing concept for value addition to dairy products. Convenience, ready-to-reconstitute and ready-to-eat foods are gaining popularity at a pace never seen before. There is thus need for developing processes which can deliver indigenous dairy products in forms which are convenient to use for the consumers. Commercial production of Indigenous milk products conforming to international standards of safety and labeling would open up new vistas for remunerative returns to the dairy industry in India. 

Development of Functional foods

            With the evolution of novel technologies and scientific developments in the past years, an increasing number of potential nutritional products with medical and health benefits, “functional foods” have gained an important place in the world market. Foods can be modified by the addition of phytochemicals, bioactive peptides, omega-3 PUFA and probiotics and/or prebiotics to become functional. Many of the dairy ingredients are also being positioned as potential nutritional products for incorporation in functional foods such as peptides derived from casein, whey proteins, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lysozyme , immunoglobulins, lactulose and galactooligosacharides. These fractions of buffalo milk components offer tremendous scope for value addition which should be exploited for their commercial to bring enormous returns to the Indian Dairy Industry. Ther is a need to develop newer cheese varieties with enhanced health attributes from buffalo milk to meet the domestic requirements and also export market. Further, Biotechnological interventions which can not only improve the overall quality of the buffalo milk based processed dairy foods but also enhance their commercial value and hence can make dramatic impact on our economy and poverty alleviation.


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Akshay Sadana

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Posted Date : 31/03/2015 Posted By : Admin