Camel milk: India
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2018: Rising U.S. demand benefits Rajasthan breeders
Camel milk and its products may not have found flavour in India, but the increasing demand from another part of the world is bringing some cheer to processing units in Rajasthan and Surat.
The customer: The demand for camel milk, and milk powder made of it, is rising in the US, pushing the price to as high as $50 a litre.
The seller: It is an unexpected bounty for camel owners in Rajasthan, who sell the milk to manufacturing units in Bikaner, Kutch and Surat. Milk is sold in a 200ml tetrapak, while the processed powder is sold in packets of 200 and 500 grams.
Connected: Advent of ecommerce means the buyers and sellers are not disconnected. Hitesh Rathi of Aadvik Foods and Products Pvt Ltd sells 6,000 litres of camel milk a month on Amazon.com. The company started selling milk online a year ago and now has 150 breeders to supply milk.
What makes camel milk special: Despite being expensive, what's driving consumption in recent years is its medicinal value, which is becoming popular for treatment of autism, diabetes, joint pain and diseases related to immunity, although no proper study on human impact has been carried yet.
A study says camel milk has insulin-like substance, and, hence, reduced the requirement for insulin in test animals artificially induced with diabetes. Researchers from Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Iran, say camel milk has lower lactose in comparison with cow's milk, and thus a good alternative for those with low tolerance to lactose. It is also a good remedy for viruses causing diarrhoea. Camel milk may have a protective role in Salmonella infections. It also has fewer short-chain fatty acid in comparison to cow milk.
How it is processed: After procuring raw milk at about Rs 200-250 per litre, these processors spend another Rs 150 for filtering out impurities to make it drinkable. The milk is also processed into a powder.