- The milk is popular across the Middle East and Africa, with 64% of the worldwide camel milk production coming from Somalia and Kenya.
- Camels produce far less milk than cows, and they have much longer gestation periods.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Camel milk can cost you $30 per liter. Compare that to cow's milk, and it's almost 30 times the price.
But for hundreds of years, camels have been used to produce milk, yogurt, and even cheese. So, why would anyone milk a camel? And what makes the milk so expensive?
Camel milk may not be quite as popular as cow milk. Compared to the 600 million metric tons of cow milk produced worldwide, only about 3 million tons of camel milk are produced each year.
However, camel milk is an important staple across Africa and the Middle East, and some cultures rely on it. Somalia and Kenya alone produce 64% of the world's camel milk.
Camelicious in Dubai has over 6,000 camels on its farm and produces 4 million liters of milk each year.
Mutasher Al Badry: As you know, the people in the Middle East connected to the camels for transport and for food, and their main diet was camel milk and dates. So it's a long history. The demand for camel milk increasing day by day, and we are facing now a challenge, which to meet the demand because the supply is less than the demand.
Narrator: This demand has kept the price high, and camel milk's profile as a new health food has boosted sales. It's slightly lower in saturated fat, has 10 times the vitamin C, and has more calcium and potassium than cow's milk.
These benefits have led many people to start using it as an alternative medicine, despite very limited evidence. Online celebrity endorsements have also led more and more people to try it.
While new camel farms are appearing across the world, the popularity is still limited, and in Europe there are still 12,000 cows for every single camel. But even if you do have a lot of camels, it's not exactly easy work to get the milk.
Judit Juhasz: Roughly, we are milking 1,300 camels twice a day, so it's a very intense work. Lots of people are included into the job. So, when camels are arriving here, they go through a very strict quarantine procedure, then we check them for different diseases, whenever needed we treat them, and we start training them for the milking parlor.
It's very crucial that we provide a very relaxed, very calm atmosphere for the camels during milking to be able to release the milk. So we had to train the camel to be able to milk them without the calves, so that was a very intensive work. And every camel is different.
So for some camels the training itself for the milking parlor takes two, three days, but for some camels it took weeks.
Narrator: Once this training period is over and your camels are producing milk, you still don't get anywhere near as much as you would from a cow.
Al Badry: One cow can give around, like, 50 liter per day, while the camel milk can give 6 to 7 liter. The cows in three years will give more than 50,000 liter, while in the camels, in three years you'll get, maximum, 4,000 to 7,000 liter.
Narrator: Unlike the dairy industry, where male calves are often killed and disposed of, every camel must be kept near its young to continue producing milk, meaning that two animals will need to be kept fed and healthy to produce just 7 liters of milk each day.
Al Badry: Camel milk is costly. In addition to that, their feeds cost. We are here at Camelicious giving our camels natural and fresh alfalfa, hay, in addition to wheat plant only. We are not giving any concentrates or any feed additives.
Narrator: So after all this work, what does the milk actually taste like?
Smells like milk. Yeah, it does have a different taste to it. It's a bit salty, I would say saltier than normal milk, but it's quite creamy. I...I don't hate it. It's almost, like, salty? I would say it doesn't taste like regular milk. I would have it again.
As this milk grows in popularity and selective breeding leads to camels that produce more milk, the price may come down. But for now, camel milk remains an expensive luxury.
Juhasz: Camel is a different species, so we didn't want and still don't want to turn them into milking machine because we are thinking long term. So we would like to have a long production life here with these camels on this farm.
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