Ultra High Temperature Milk - it's milk that has been heated to 280 to 302 degrees for a couple seconds and then placed into a sterile container - which gives it longer shelf life.
In the past, consumers would frequently complain that the Western Dairies milk in the stores lasts less than a week before it starts turning sour. But that's because it's unpasteurized and unprocessed, unlike the imported LALA milk.
But the dairy company is stepping up their game with their new UHT plant that will see locally made milk that can last for months. Courtney Menzies took a trip to the processing plant in Spanish Lookout and has this story.
If you're an avid milk drinker, a cereal lover, or a pastry baker, then you'll know the options for the dairy product are limited - you either buy natural, locally made milk that may expire in your refrigerator or buy the imported, ultra-processed boxed milk.
But now, there's a third option that combines the first two - naturally made milk that you can store up to months at a time. And this is thanks to Western Dairies' new processing plant.
Isaac Wolfe, Chairman, Western Dairies
"This ultra-high temperature process allows us to reengineer and modernize our plant and to provide the Belizean product with yet another milk product. Milk that is 100% natural with up to 90 days shelf life, the storage condition that do not need refrigerator. This major capital investment will allow an increase in production in our plant by at least 10% annually."
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"If you could remember during the pandemic, the people at Spanish Lookout, or the cattle ranchers around Spanish Lookout, had to be throwing away their cow milk because there was simply just no market and consistently people were complaining that the milk has a very limited shelf life, I think it's probably about three maybe five days so now by using the UHT process, the shelf life can go probably as long as three months so it's a game changer, it's a game changer for Belize, a game changer for our cattle ranchers, a game changer for Spanish Lookout so we're excited about the prospects."
And this new UHT plant seeks to take Belize's dairy industry to another level that will benefit even the smaller cattle ranchers - and may even generate more foreign income.
Hon. Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"One of the first benefits that come to mind immediately is that this industry will grow. We have 20 million to grow. Our imports are 35 million worth of dairy products and we only produce less than half of that, ten million, so we have twenty million to go, so this is definitely the opportunity that farmers will have to invest more. As a matter of fact the potential for dairy farm in Belize is tremendous. The reason it hasn't grown is because it was restricted to only what can be processed but now we can grow, nothing stops us except the quality of our product so now we have to work on enhancing the quality of cheese and I'm certain that we can do that also."
"The more you mechanize and you invest in modern technology, the more efficient you're supposed to become. So that provides the opportunity for this company to export to our regional partners, CARICOM and even Central America. The demand for milk in Central America has grown, for example in El Salvador, they import a lot of milk. So we are looking at these Central American countries and CARICOM. Once we are able to finalize the quality, shelf life, the potential is there for us to grow."
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"What is important is that it will also allow our small cattle ranchers in the area in La Gracia, Duck Run 1, 2 and 3 and other villages around here, that they also can sell their milk to Western Dairies and to me that's what creates the opportunity."
The milk comes in various flavors such as chocolate and strawberry, and will soon be found in stores.