Nelson-Jameson, Inc. began as a dairy-centric business almost 70 years ago and, while we’ve since branched into all sectors of the food and beverage processing industries, we still consider ourselves experts in all-things-dairy.
Global dairy consumption is expected to grow by 36% in the next decade, largely driven by emerging markets. To satisfy this demand and other culturally-based needs, consumers and processors are looking beyond the traditional dairy cow to other milk-producing animals such as camels, goats, sheep and buffaloes.
Hump Day Every Day
Camel milk has long been a staple in arid regions in the Middle East, Asia and Africa where bovine farming is considered too water-intensive. It has more fat and protein than cow’s milk, and is lower in cholesterol than cow or goat milk. Proponents of Camel milk assert that the milk’s naturally anti-inflammatory properties can improve brain function for those that suffer from Autism and ADHD, and that it may promote the healing of diabetic wounds. You’ll pay a premium for these benefits, however—camel milk is currently being sold in select Whole Foods and other supermarkets for $18/16oz.
Get Your Goat (and Sheep)
Although goat cheese and sheep’s milk cheese have been regularly consumed in the United States for quite some time, their fluid milk is only now beginning to gain popularity with Americans. Globally, their milk has been consumed for thousands of years, as both sheep and goats were among the earliest animals domesticated by humans. Goat’s milk has more calcium, potassium and vitamin A than cow’s milk, and is also easier to digest because of its lower level of lactose. Sheep’s milk is similar to the mineral and vitamin content in goat’s milk, but also has more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than both cow’s and goat’s milk. CLA has been shown to help reduce cancerous tumors, lower blood pressure and reduce body fat.
Water, Swamp and River Buffaloes are responsible for a significant amount of the world’s milk production, second only to dairy cattle. Although buffaloes have a significantly longer production life than cows, they also have longer “dry” periods, produce less milk and are more sensitive to the milking process. 95% of the dairy buffalo population is located in Asia, and the largest buffalo milk producers are in India and Pakistan. Although buffalo milk is often made into cheese, ghee or yogurt, its use as a beverage has recently gained popularity outside of Asia. Buffalo milk is lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk, and is thicker and creamier due to a higher fat and calorie content. Also, because of its high peroxidase activity, buffalo milk can be preserved naturally for a longer period than cow’s milk.
A Moo Frontier
While camels, goats, sheep and buffaloes are the more common animal-based sources of milk outside of cows, other animals like donkeys, horses, reindeer, and yaks are farmed for milk as well. Donkey milk in particular has been enjoying a newfound popularity, partially due to mainstream news articles touting it as “the elixer of life” and “the next big thing”, as well as Pope Francis giving it his holy stamp of approval. Hey, if it’s good enough for the pope, I guess we could give alternative animal milk a try too.