The Bedouins of the world call it the „white gold of the desert“: Camel milk. They claim to be able to live more than two weeks solely on this exceptional substance and dates. In this world, there are around 20 million camels in over a hundred countries. Since more than 3000 years, the milk is well known for its health and curing qualities mostly in the Arabic and African region.
Up until recently it has not really reached our circles of latitude, however, it is actually a great business opportunity.
Amenities of camel milk
So, what is it about that strange “magic potion” that actually does not really appeal to a European palate, as it is somehow more salty than cow milk?
At first sight, it may not even be as profitable as conventional dairy: A camel cow can give about 6 liters of milk a day – whereas a cow gives 30 liters. Its shelf life consists of only five days, after pasteurization up to three weeks, while cow milk stays fresh at least six to eight weeks.
However, camel milk has:
- 5x as much vitamin C and 10x as much iron as cow milk
- Lactose in it, but for some reason, people who are lactose intolerant can still drink it
- A protein in it which is very similar to insulin which is why diabetics consuming it on a daily basis, can decrease their insulin intake by up to 30%
- 4x less fat than cow milk, but is just as versatile: It can be used for low fat-varieties of cheese, chocolate, yoghurt, …
- high potential of treating illnesses
Healing properties of camel milk
Israeli studies investigated its compatibility and effects on allergy sufferers: Eight children suffering from heavy food allergies were fed solely camel milk for two weeks. All of them responded very well to it and got completely rid of their allergies. Those same scientists also detected that patients consuming camel milk were faster recovering from tuberculosis.
Its healing properties have also been noticed when it comes to autoimmune diseases, including autism. In the United States, a group of women has formed a small organization trading camel milk from Amish farmers to feed their autistic children. The milk clears their gut and helps them develop.
Camel milk is the closest to human milk which makes it a great substitute for mother milk. In countries with high HIV/aids infection rates it is a cheap and healthy way to prevent your baby from malnutrition and transmission of the disease through breast-feeding.
Supporting the marginalized people in the world
The best thing about camel milk is that throughout hundreds of years people have benefited from it and nowadays many initiatives are set up performing business that supports the marginalized people in the world.
Up to now, there are only five locations where the milk gets pasteurized and commercially sold. Those countries are Kenya, Mauritania, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan. All of them show amazing concepts of how to profit from the numerous benefits of camel milk.
To take Kenya as an example:
In the desert, four hours north of the capital Nairobi, there is a corporative of only women from the half-nomadic Samburu tribe selling camel milk to the supermarkets in Nairobi. Slowly by slowly, they are transitioning from cow as their main cattle to camel. As camels can go without water for a week or more and still produce milk, they are stronger security especially in the face of increasing droughts in that area.
The Samburu women collect 5000 liters of camel milk daily, put it in plastic bags and ship it to Nairobi where it is sold in the supermarkets at $1 per liter.
Apart from processing the milk to other foodstuffs, it is also used to produce cosmetics, salves and medication. In Kenya as well as in Mongolia, camel milk is made into soap. Due to its healing properties, it can not only be used as a natural sun blocker, but also to moisturize and get eczema away.
In the EU, there is only one camel farm in the Netherlands up to now rearing 40 camels their owner collected mostly from the Canary Islands. The animals as well as their unpasteurized milk may not be imported into the EU which renders the sales market within the European Union quite limited. Currently, the European Commission is working on loosening its restrictions due to a future contract with a large producer of camel milk products from the United Arab Emirates. Up to then, it can only be bought from the 26 year old Dutch Frank Smits who sells one liter of the milk at 6 Euros.
The future of camel milk
Even though there is so much more to say about camel milk and even a lot more things that up to now can only be guessed, what is the future of camel milk?
Demand will definitely increase within the next years -whether it will be the milk itself, chocolate, yoghurt, soap, lotion, …
It will be incrementally used in the health sector, as a part of medication. And it will hopefully get better known in Europe as soon as the EU certifies it.
However, what stays important is that it is an amazing grass root-project that generates money for its communities. If it gets commercialized, those ones who need its benefits the most shall not be forgotten. In developing countries there are therefore three basic needs for the future of the milk:
- Investors into dairy infrastructure (storing milk)
- Research on it and its useful effects
- Open up to the Western market