The Italian parliament is looking into measures for the valorization of the Italian donkey milk production chain, with the goal of increasing production for human consumption.
The aim, Orunesu said, is to enhance donkey milk production to benefit children born prematurely and underweight, and also to help milk producers and donkey farmers.
The global donkey milk market is currently seeing a CAGR of about 9%. Most of the production – almost half of the market – took place in Europe in 2019, however, the markets in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions are registering fast growth.
Orunesu said while the cosmetics & personal care sectors have a significant donkey milk market share; however, the food specialty segment is projected to experience the most growth over the next five years.
He added the Covid-19 pandemic led to an increase in sales of donkey milk, due to its properties such as vitamins, minerals, protein, iron, and others.
The proposed measures are incentives and a tax credit of 3-4 euros per liter for each producer and the establishment of a permanent observatory on donkey milk at the Ministry of Agriculture to monitor the market, organize meetings with the production chain, and promote health studies.
Orunesu said the proposal is the result of an in-depth analysis on donkey milk, which he said has excellent properties related to health, especially for children born prematurely and underweight, as well as children suffering from cow milk protein allergy.
The proposed legislation also provides incentives for donkey milk farmers at risk of going out of business.
Orunesu said Eurolactis intends to invest in a variety of strategies to drive opportunities for donkey milk in food & beverages, in the cosmetics industry, and for health benefits.
He said a lack of awareness regarding donkey milk and its high cost are impeding growth in the sector, however, this is being offset by a surge in social media awareness and new clinical results, which he expects will provide more opportunities in the industry.
He also added that Eurolactis wants to be involved to guarantee safe milk collection, treatment, and production.
“As an entrepreneur, I am very grateful for this initiative because this supply chain deserves adequate support,” Orunesu told Dairy Reporter.
“Donkey milk is useful for allergic or premature babies. It differs from cow's milk as it is like human milk and, above all, is very popular because it is sweet.”
Orunesu said in situations human milk cannot be given, alternative food sources must be sought, and that clinical studies have demonstrated donkey milk could substitute for breastfeeding in infants affected by severe Ig-E mediated milk allergies.
He said in such circumstances donkey milk is also safer than other types of milk, as its high lipid content (linoleic and linolenic acid) and low caseins content is very close to human milk.
The parliament videoconference session is available here (in Italian).