The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seeking EU permission to export camel’s milk but despite its nutritional benefits the milk may struggle to become a significant market force.
If granted, EU permission to export will pave the way for camel’s milk to line our supermarket shelves alongside more traditional rivals like cow’s and goat’s milk.
And for many consumers, the camel could offer a promising alternative to the cow. Camel’s milk does not cause protein allergies and can be drunk by people with lactose intolerance. It is also high in insulin which could be good news for diabetes patients.
In addition, Imen Haddad, who has just published an article in the International Dairy Journal on the fat content of camel milk, told DairyReporter.com that the milk has a promising fat profile.1 Although the overall fat content is similar to that of cow’s milk, she said it is interesting both for its unsaturated fat content and its lower percentage content of saturated fats.
In a health conscious European market this could make the camel a popular option but there are downsides.
Haddad said she has doubts about the suitability of camel’s milk for export. The researcher said little work has been done to see how it reacts to thermal treatment.
She added that the milk does not keep very easily, and can change character over time.
In addition, there are more obvious barriers to success such as a high price tag. Even in the UAE where camels are indigenous, their milk costs a lot more than cow’s milk. This is because the industry around camel milk production is much less well developed, and camels themselves produce far less milk than cows.
Haddad said exporters would also have to convince European consumers to change their milk drinking habits in favour of the camel. Overall, she said it is unlikely that the drink will make a big impact in Europe any time soon even if EU export permission is granted.
1 International Dairy Journal
Stereospecific analysis of triacylglycerols in camel (Camelus dromedarius) milk fat
Authors: Imen Haddad, Massimo Mozzon, Rosanna Strabbioli and Natale G. Frega