TÜV SÜD survey: What’s hay milk?

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

While knowledge of hay milk may be high in Austria, a recent survey found the product isn't so well understood in Germany, where it is also sold. Pic:©GettyImages/FooTToo
While knowledge of hay milk may be high in Austria, a recent survey found the product isn't so well understood in Germany, where it is also sold. Pic:©GettyImages/FooTToo
‘Hay milk’ is a special dairy product popular in many areas including Germany. However, it appears few consumers know what’s really behind the name.

German technical services company TÜV SÜD carried out a survey on hay milk, which shows consumers associate the name either with no particular quality criteria, or sometimes with incorrect information.

Food retailers in southern Germany and Austria have included hay milk in their product ranges for some time. And while awareness of the product is around 80% in neighboring Austria, it’s nowhere near that level in Germany.

Low recognition

According to TÜV SÜD, more than 70% of consumers surveyed continue to buy conventional full-fat or skimmed milk.

In Germany, only about 2% of consumers buy hay milk. One-quarter of consumers surveyed indicated that they do not know what makes hay milk, which commands a higher price in stores, a unique product.

The survey showed 23% of consumers interviewed believe the cows’ feed must come from traditional grass farming, while 5% stated hay milk must be produced without the use of silage. Around 10% of consumers associated the name “hay milk” with Austria, and 18% with ecologically controlled production.

Traditional EU product

The difference between conventional cows' milk and traditional hay milk lies in how the animals are fed. In conventional milk production, cows can be fed fermented fodder (e.g. corn silage), and moist or wet hay, whereas fermented fodder is not used in grass-based dairy farming.

By-products from distilleries, breweries or fruit pressing are prohibited in the production of hay milk. In spring and summer, cows are out on pasture grazing on herbs, grasses and leguminous plants. During the winter period they are exclusively fed on hay.

The animals may be fed bran or pellets with high mineral contents, e.g. from sugar production, or protein feeds from cereal processing. Concentrated feed is allowed, but is carefully regulated.

While hay milk is not necessarily organic, hay feeding affects the taste and composition of milk. For example, hay milk includes twice as many omega-3 fatty acids as standard milk.

Production of hay milk is a traditional kind of dairy production, however, the name ‘hay milk’ was not protected until 2016.

Since March 2016 – with a transition period until March 2018 – hay milk products that comply with the regulations of official hay milk bodies have been able to gain the EU-wide “Traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG)” label.

Related topics: Retail & Shopper Insights, Fresh Milk


Post your comment

We will not publish your email address on the website

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.