Low-lactose camel milk now available in the Netherlands

Camel's milk has long been recognised as highly nutritious - but it is also less fatty and lower in lactose than cow's milk even though it tastes sweeter. And 26-year-old Dutch farmer Frank Smits believes that it has a great future in Europe.

Smits started in 2006 with three dromedaries (camels with only one hump) which he eventually found in the Canary Islands (under European Union regulations, camels cannot be imported from outside Europe) for 7,000 euros each. Today he has 40, of which 10 currently produce milk.

The dromedaries are milked one by one, morning and night, by a machine specially adapted to their teats. Each cow provides about six litres of milk per day, compared to about 30 litres from a cow. However, they can be very stubborn and only give milk if their young are close by and at the slightest stress, their milk will dry up. Of the 40 animals on the farm, a dozen have given birth to young. Most of the others are pregnant - all from the sole male of the group.

Smits sells about 60 litres of milk (at around six euros a litre) a day to Turkish, Arabic and organic food shops in the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom for Turkish and Moroccan immigrants who traditionally drink camel's milk and hope that he may break into profit once the 15 milk producing camels.

Smits' camel milk is not pasteurised (it would lose many of its nutritional qualities) but his farm meets all the stringent conditions for obtaining a production permit. He hopes to be able to develop new camel milk products like chocolate, ice cream, cheese and soap for people with conditions like diabetes or eczema.

For a detailed analysis of camels milk

Frank Smits' website – www.kamelenmelk.nl

For the original story in the Independent

First published in September 2009



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